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 FauciCDC director urges Americans to go outside, 'enjoy your trick-or-treating' The Hill's 12:30 Report - Presented by Facebook - Dems eye legislative deal by the end of the week The Hill's Morning Report - Presented by Facebook - Biden, Democrats inch closer to legislative deal 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 ColeHouse GOP leaders urge 'no' vote on Bannon contempt Cheney presses Republicans to back Bannon contempt vote House votes to raise debt ceiling 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 TrumpJan. 6 panel plans to subpoena Trump lawyer who advised on how to overturn election Texans chairman apologizes for 'China virus' remark Biden invokes Trump in bid to boost McAuliffe ahead of Election Day 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 DeLauroWhich proposals will survive in the Democrats' spending plan? Proposals to reform supports for parents face chopping block On The Money — Democrats eye tough choices as deadline looms 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.