WASHINGTON (Reuters) – Dr. Anthony Fauci, the top U.S. infectious disease expert, will testify on Friday before a coronavirus subcommittee in Congress, weeks after President Donald Trump’s administration first refused to let him address the panel.
Fauci’s testimony comes at the end of a week when the pandemic’s tragic toll on the country has become far clearer. The United States on Wednesday experienced its 150,000th death from the disease — more than any other country — and data on Thursday showing a deep economic plunge.
Democrats said the Trump administration initially prevented Fauci from testifying to the panel by saying he was unavailable for the entire month of July and relented only after House Majority Whip James Clyburn wrote to Vice President Mike Pence.
A veteran of six Republican and Democratic administrations, Fauci has become the most familiar face of the administration’s coronavirus task force.
This week, Trump, who has often bristled against scientists’ advice on responding to the pandemic, bemoaned the degree to which Fauci is admired, saying “nobody likes me. It can only be my personality.”
U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention Director Dr. Robert Redfield and Admiral Brett Giroir, assistant secretary at the Department of Health and Human Services, are also scheduled to testify before the Select Subcommittee on the Coronavirus Crisis.
Headed by Clyburn, the subcommittee was created this year to monitor the trillions of dollars approved by Congress to help the United States weather the health and economic impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic.
Earlier this week, Trump retweeted a post accusing Fauci and Democrats of suppressing the use of the drug hydroxychloroquine to treat the new coronavirus that included a link to a video of a group discounting the need for face masks amid the pandemic. The tweet was removed by social media companies.
Reporting by David Morgan; Editing by Scott Malone and David Gregorio
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