House Republicans are gearing up to scrutinize former top government advisor Anthony Fauci in person next week, focusing on allegations that he played a role in stifling debate on crucial medical and public health issues during the peak of the pandemic. The closed-door testimony scheduled for Monday and Tuesday offers the Republican majority on the House Select Subcommittee on the Coronavirus Pandemic an opportunity to directly question Fauci, whom Chairman Brad Wenstrup (R-OH) deems the “face of the pandemic.” This marks Fauci’s first appearance before the subcommittee since his retirement in December 2022.
Many conservatives attribute disruptions imposed on businesses, civic organizations, and churches during the pandemic to Fauci’s influence. As the director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases and a key COVID advisor to Presidents Trump and Biden, Fauci is accused of suppressing dissenting voices among experts and manipulating the government to enforce controversial policies. Chairman Wenstrup emphasizes the importance of accurate and honest information for scientific debates, insisting that individuals and their doctors should have access to reliable data.
The subcommittee has spent the past year reviewing pandemic policies and investigating the origins of SARS-CoV-2, aiming to determine if it originated at the Wuhan Institute of Virology in China. While there is bipartisan agreement on the need to enhance biosafety standards, the parties differ on the approach to questioning Fauci. Democrats, led by Subcommittee ranking member Raul Ruiz (D-CA), view the Republican pursuit of a transcribed interview with Fauci as a politically motivated attempt to vilify him and public health officials.
Chairman Wenstrup intends to delve into Fauci’s changing stance on issues such as the efficacy of masks and vaccine mandates, emphasizing the impact of federal actions on the doctor-patient relationship. He contends that threatening to revoke doctors’ licenses for suggesting alternative treatments like ivermectin or hydroxychloroquine impedes academic debate in medicine. Wenstrup, who supports mRNA COVID-19 vaccines, plans to question Fauci about vaccine mandates for employment and education, recognizing the importance of open communication with the public.
Highlighting the difficulty in scheduling Fauci’s transcribed interview, Wenstrup compares the process to the challenges faced in obtaining information from the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS). Republicans previously subpoenaed top HHS officials in November, citing repeated stonewalling from the department on information related to the origins of SARS-CoV-2. Chairman Wenstrup emphasizes the need for transparency and cooperation from public health agencies, stating that Americans deserve a trusted public health system they can rely on.