May 5, 2020 / 3:40 PM / 25 days ago

Fauci to testify before U.S. Senate, not House, on virus response

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - President Donald Trump on Tuesday said top health official Anthony Fauci would appear next week before a panel in the Republican-controlled U.S. Senate examining the country’s coronavirus response but could not testify to the Democratic-led House of Representatives.

Trump, speaking to reporters at the White House, defended his decision to block the nation’s top infectious disease expert from appearing before the House, saying he was being set up by Democrats who hate him and want to win back the White House in November’s presidential election.

Fauci, who directs the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases and is part of the White House Coronavirus Task Force, is scheduled to appear May 12 before the Senate Health, Education, and Labor and Pensions committee along with other top U.S. health officials.

“The House is a set up. The House is a bunch of Trump haters. They put every Trump hater on the committee,” the Republican president said.

“The House they should be ashamed of themselves and, frankly, the Democrats should be ashamed because they don’t want us to succeed. They want us to fail so they can win an election, which they’re not going to win,” added Trump, who is seeking re-election in November.

A House Appropriations subcommittee that oversees health programs had been seeking testimony from Fauci for a May 6 hearing, but the White House last week said his appearance would be “counterproductive.”

Food and Drug Administration Commissioner Stephen Hahn, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention Director Robert Redfield, and Health and Human Services Assistant Secretary Brett Giroir are also scheduled to appear before the Senate hearing next week focused on “safely getting back to work and ... school,” according to the committee.

Reporting by Steve Holland and Susan Cornwell; writing by Susan Heavey; Editing by David Gregorio

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