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White House blocks Fauci from testifying at 'counter-productive' House hearing, Senate appearance still on

The White House confirmed Friday it is blocking Dr. Anthony Fauci, the director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Disease who has taken on a prominent role in the Trump administration's coronavirus response, from testifying before the Democrat-led House Appropriations Committee about the pandemic next week.

White House spokesman Judd Deere said "it is counterproductive" to have someone like Fauci, who is heavily involved in the government's efforts to re-open the American economy and expedite a coronavirus vaccine, step away from those tasks and testify.

"It's not muzzling, it's not blocking, it's simply trying to ensure we're able to balance the need for oversight, the legitimate need for oversight, with their responsibilities to handle COVID-19 work at their respective agencies and departments," a senior administration official told The Washington Post on condition of anonymity.

Deere did say the White House would work with Congress to find a more "appropriate time" for Fauci to testify.

Fauci, who at times has dissented from President Trump on certain coronavirus-related matters such as testing capacity and whether some states are re-opening too soon, will reportedly still appear before the Republican-led Senate Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions Committee the following week. Read more at The Washington Post and CNN.