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Fauci's absence from hearing draws bipartisan rebuke from House lawmakers

A key House panel held a hearing Wednesday on the country's response to the coronavirus pandemic but had to do so without testimony from any members of the Trump administration. 

The absences of key figures in the battle against COVID-19 — including Anthony FauciAnthony FauciNew data suggest 'long COVID' symptoms last up to 9 months: Fauci The Hill's Morning Report - Presented by The AIDS Institute - Finger-pointing on Capitol riot; GOP balks at Biden relief plan Overnight Health Care: COVID-19 vaccine makers pledge massive supply increase | Biden health nominee faces first Senate test | White House defends reopening of facility for migrant kids MORE, the administration's top infectious diseases expert — prompted frustration from members of both parties.

“I want the record to show I joined the chairman urging that Dr. Fauci be allowed to testify here,” Rep. Tom ColeThomas (Tom) Jeffrey ColeDemocratic women sound alarm on female unemployment House votes to kick Greene off committees over embrace of conspiracy theories LIVE COVERAGE: House debates removing Greene from committees MORE (Okla.), the top Republican on the House Appropriations labor and health subcommittee, said during the hearing. 

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“I think it would have been good testimony, useful to this committee and useful to this country. Frankly, I think going forward, this subcommittee, more than any other, is going to need administration input, expert input, as we make the important decisions in front of us.” 

President TrumpDonald TrumpSenators given no timeline on removal of National Guard, Capitol fence Democratic fury with GOP explodes in House Georgia secretary of state withholds support for 'reactionary' GOP voting bills MORE blocked Fauci, a leading member of the White House’s coronavirus task force, from testifying, telling reporters Tuesday the “House is a bunch of Trump haters."

Cole argued that the committee is not “hyperpartisan” and has a record of bipartisan accomplishments. 

Rep. Rosa DeLauroRosa DeLauroDemocratic women sound alarm on female unemployment The Hill's 12:30 Report: Mars rover prepares for landing The Hill's Morning Report - Democrats ready mammoth relief bill for 10-day sprint MORE (D-Conn.), the chairwoman of the subcommittee, went further in her criticism and said Trump’s decision leaves no doubt he is “frightened by oversight.” 

“I am angry that the White House mismanaged America’s reaction to the pandemic, and the president has done everything he could to avoid accountability,” DeLauro said, noting Fauci has testified hundreds of times before Congress while working under both Democratic and Republican presidents. 

Trump told reporters Fauci will testify before the Senate Appropriations Committee next week. 

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Instead, members of the subcommittee heard from two public health experts who aren't working directly with the administration on the coronavirus response: Tom Frieden, former director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and Caitlin Rivers, a senior scholar at the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health. 

Both Frieden and Rivers said the U.S. needs to increase COVID-19 testing and contact tracing before the country can safely reopen. 

The Trump administration has faced criticism for not being more involved with states' efforts to scale up testing and contact tracing. 

"I do think the federal government should play a role in obtaining testing supplies for the states," Rivers said. 

"What we don't want is a situation where all 50 states have to devise their own testing strategies and are bidding against each other." 

Updated at 1:12 pm.