The Trump administration told Congress on Wednesday that lawmakers will simply have to wait to hear from officials currently combatting the COVID-19 coronavirus pandemic, sparking familiar suspicions among Democrats of stonewalling.
Cassidy Hutchinson of the Office of Legislative Affairs told House committees that the next three weeks will be a no-go when it comes to congressional testimony from government officials responding to the crisis.
“Due to the full Administration mobilization underway, we are instituting a temporary pause with respect to the involvement in hearings of government witnesses who are engaged in the coronavirus response,” Hutchinson said, according to Politico. “Right now, the Executive Branch needs all of its resources directly focused on executing its day-to-day response to COVID-19.”
Hutchison said the pause is effective as of right now and is “intended” to stay in place “through the end of March.” Depending on how things go in the coming weeks, it’s conceivable that the pause may go on indefinitely.
Hutchinson still promised the administration would “continue to offer full transparency to Congress and the American people.”
Not everyone took the Trump administration at its word. Their overarching belief is that the White House is trying to prevent a situation like the one that occurred last week, when Dr. Anthony Fauci said that it is a “failing” that broad access to coronavirus tests is unavailable to the American people.
Some Ds say it’s stonewalling, a reaction to Dr. Fauci’s explosive hill tesitmony last week.
But others say they understand the need to give senior officials space during the immediate crisis, especially while Congress is social distancing.https://t.co/WwkTIMJrsr
— Kyle Cheney (@kyledcheney) March 18, 2020
This is unacceptable that the White House won't allow public oversight of its botched response. https://t.co/FwXoPW7zNj
— Sasha Samberg-Champion (@ssamcham) March 18, 2020
[Image via Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images]