The White House is blocking the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) Director Robert Redfield from testifying before Congress regarding the reopening of schools amid the ongoing coronavirus pandemic.
On Friday, it was made known that Redfield would not be allowed to speak at the hearing for the House Committee on Education and Labor’s Subcommittee on Early Childhood, Elementary, and Secondary Education scheduled for July 23.
Shortly after the announcement, House Education Committee Chairman Rep. Bobby Scott (D-Va.), the lawmaker who requested Redfield’s presence at the hearing, released a statement, as he pushed back against the White House’s decision.
“It is alarming that the Trump administration is preventing the CDC from appearing before the Committee at a time when its expertise and guidance is so critical to the health and safety of students, parents, and educators,” Scott said in the statement.
He went on to condemn the White House’s “lack of transparency” at such a critical point during the pandemic as “difficult decisions” are being made regarding schools.
“This lack of transparency does a great disservice to the many communities across the country facing difficult decisions about reopening schools this fall.”
Scott also criticized the White House for “prioritizing politics over science.”
“The administration’s strategy of prioritizing politics over science has had a devastating impact on our country throughout this pandemic,” Scott said. “It should not make that same mistake when it comes to reopening schools.”
Despite the push back from Democratic lawmakers, the White House is standing by its decision to deny Redfield from testifying.
“Dr. Redfield has testified on the Hill at least four times over the last three months. We need our doctors focused on the pandemic response,” a White House spokesperson said on Friday.
The White House’s decision comes amid ongoing deliberation about reopening schools in the fall.
When the CDC released its guidelines for safely reopening schools, the president took to Twitter lambasting their recommendations deeming them “very tough and expensive.”
Trump also demanded that they revise the guidelines. Redfield, however, made it clear afterward that the CDC does not plan to revise its guidelines but instead plans to provide more information, as IJR reported.
I disagree with @CDCgov on their very tough & expensive guidelines for opening schools. While they want them open, they are asking schools to do very impractical things. I will be meeting with them!!!— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) July 8, 2020
As of Saturday morning, there are more than 3.7 million known coronavirus cases in the United States as the death toll surpasses 142,000 and there are over 1.7 million reported recoveries.