HomeWashington Letter2020 ▶ House Panel Holds Hearing on Trump Administration Oversight of COVID-19 Pandemic
House Panel Holds Hearing on Trump Administration Oversight of COVID-19 Pandemic

On June 23, the U.S. House Energy and Commerce Committee, chaired by Rep. Frank Pallone (D-NJ), held a hearing entitled, Oversight of the Trump Administration's Response to the COVID-19 Pandemic. The key witnesses were Robert Redfield, MD, director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention ; Anthony Fauci, MD, the director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases at NIH; Brett Giroir, MD, the assistant secretary for Health at the Department of Health and Human Services ; and Steven Hahn, MD, the Food and Drug Administration commissioner. The hearing explored current progress on a SARS-CoV-2 vaccine, testing, and mis-steps by the Administration in the handling of the pandemic. There was open and at times bitter disagreement between the committee’s Democratic and Republican members over these issues.

Key points raised by all four witnesses during the hearing included:

  • More funding and resources are needed to continue these and other federal and state agency efforts to combat COVID-19.
  • All witnesses present believe more SARS-CoV-2 testing is needed, along with a comprehensive plan to ensure that more testing will take place.
  • Following the President’s statement earlier this week that he has instructed his staff to “slow down testing,” witnesses including Dr. Fauci were asked repeatedly by many members of Congress if they had received any pressure from the current administration to slow down testing; all four witnesses responded that they had not received such direction.
  • There has been some success in the trials of vaccines, medication and therapeutic methods. In the coming months HHS expects to benefit from this success and implement more “weapons” to fight this pandemic.
  • Individuals who get the SARS-CoV-2 virus and recover develop antibodies. Those antibodies protect that person from contracting the virus again. However, it is unclear for how long and at what strength these antibodies perform.
  • Dr. Fauci repeatedly said he is cautiously optimistic that a vaccine will be available in 2021. 
Last Reviewed: June 2020