By Justin Sink
The White House says it would be more concerned over House Oversight Committee Chairman Darrell Issa's (R-Calif.) criticism of the federal Ebola response if the California lawmaker could correctly pronounce the virus's name.
Peppered with Republican criticism of the White House anti-Ebola strategy during a hearing Friday, press secretary Josh Earnest dryly noted that Issa — who slammed the appointment of former Vice President Biden chief of staff Ron Klain as the new Ebola czar — had bungled the name of the deadly disease during the hearing.
In the hearing, Issa said Klain's appointment "shows the administration has on one hand recognized the missteps and on the other hand is not prepared to put a known leader in charge or, in fact, a medical professional in charge."
Issa also accused the administration of "fumbles, bumbles or missteps" and criticized Klain's decision to decline an invitation to testify.
The White House has noted that Klain only began work on Wednesday, and argued he is focused on spearheading the administration's response. Earnest said that on Friday, Klain was spending time coordinating with local and state officials after a doctor in New York City was diagnosed with the disease.
The White House spokesman also noted that other members of the administration had participated in the hearing.
"It does reflect our commitment to working with Congress to ensure that the country is working together and pulling in the same direction to respond to this situation, and we’ll continue to do that in days ahead," he said.
Earnest similarly dismissed criticism from Rep. Jason ChaffetzJason ChaffetzOvernight Energy: Obama signs chemical safety reform into law House caucus to focus on business in Latin America Freedom Caucus urges vote on impeaching IRS commissioner MORE (R-Utah), who suggested that healthcare workers who traveled to West Africa should be quarantined after returning to the United States. Chaffetz expressed particular alarm over revelations the New York City doctor had gone bowling the night before his fever spiked.
Earnest challenged Chaffetz's "knowledge of how Ebola is actually transmitted" and repeated that the virus could only be spread through contact with a symptomatic person's bodily fluids.
The press secretary added the president would not have any qualms about riding the subway or bowling in New York City Friday — complete with a joke at Obama's notoriously lackluster bowling skills.
"The president is a big fan of bowling," Earnest quipped. "He is an accomplished bowler."
"I can tell you that the president would have no qualms about riding the subway in New York or taking a stroll on the High Line, which is, I know, something he would love to do," he added.