Democrat Katie Porter's confrontation with CDC director goes viral

A confrontation between Rep. Katie Porter (D-Calif.) and Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) Director Robert R. Redfield went viral this week, as the California Democrat pressed him to guarantee free coronavirus tests for all Americans.

At Thursday's House Oversight and Reform Committee hearing, Porter said a coronavirus test for an uninsured patient would cost $1,331.

"Dr. Redfield, do you want to know who has the coronavirus and who doesn't? Not just rich people, but everybody who might have the virus?" she asked him.

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Porter then hit Redfield with a series of questions about how the general public would be able to afford the tests and if the administration would move to allow free testing, to which Redfield replied, "I think you're an excellent questioner, so my answer is yes."

"Excellent, everyone in America, hear that you are eligible to go get tested and have that covered regardless of insurance," she said after Redfield's confirmation. "Please, if you believe you have the illness, call first ... do not let a lack of insurance worsen this crisis."

Video of the exchange tweeted out by Porter has been viewed more than 23 million times.

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Porter received praise for her line of questioning, with NBC and MSNBC political analyst Karine Jean-Pierre calling her "brilliant" and "effective."

Television producer Hart Hanson praised Porter on Twitter, asking, "How many lives did Katie Porter save today using a whiteboard, a bullshit detector, and an ability to retain focus?"

But at the end of the hearing, Redfield suggested he was only planning to look into free testing for the coronavirus, noting that the administration "is currently examining all avenues" for the uninsured to have access to testing and treatment.

Porter later appeared on MSNBC, saying she understood Redfield's response to her questions as a "promise" for the American people, and expected him to honor it.

"The CDC director made that commitment today under oath. He was sworn in at the start of that hearing, and my job as a Congress member is to ask those tough questions and to extract those promises," Porter said. "That was a promise he made to the American people, and I intend to hold him to it."

The Hill has reached out to the CDC for comment.

The U.S. recorded more than 1,800 cases of COVID-19 and 41 deaths from the virus as of Friday, according to The New York Times.