Landmark Staff Attend Fauci Hearing

June 14, 2024

Landmark Staff Attend Fauci Hearing

On June 3, Dr. Anthony Fauci appeared voluntarily before the House Select Subcommittee on the Coronavirus Pandemic. Dr. Fauci served as director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID) for 38 years before retiring in 2022. Over the course of the COVID-19 pandemic he became the face of the government’s response to the crisis. Dr. Fauci has appeared before the subcommittee on several previous occasions, testifying for over 14 hours over two days of closed-door meetings. Monday marked his first public testimony, which was heralded by a swarm of media and public attention. After the flurry of pictures taken by the press and the oath taken by Dr. Fauci, the hearing was notably partisan.

 Attending a congressional hearing is remarkably easy. Our group met up at 7 am at a metro station in Falls Church and took the orange line to the Capitol South station. From there, it was a short walk to the Rayburn House Office Building, where this hearing was held. The building opens at 7:30, and attendees usually start lining up outside hearing rooms two hours before the time they are scheduled to take place, depending on the anticipation of the proceedings. Tickets are not required, and seats are available to the public on a first come, first served basis. We waited from 8 am until 10 am before being let into the hearing chamber. While waiting, the line continued to grow, and more and more members of the media gathered. After being admitted, the audience was instructed to not disrupt the proceeding and there were two capitol police officers standing on either side of the gallery. A handful of hecklers were escorted out of the room after shouting insults. As people departed, others arrived to take their places. The whole hearing took about three and a half hours.

The Republicans on the subcommittee, led by Rep. Wenstrup from Ohio, spoke with the same objective, yet their arguments differed: some focused on investigating what went wrong in the response to the pandemic and what should be changed, while others sought to hold Dr. Fauci accountable for his alleged misconduct. Rep. Wenstrup himself does not plan to run for reelection in 2024 and has made his last mission in Congress concluding this subcommittee and delivering answers. Rep. Malliotakis (R-NY) pressed for details on who received millions of dollars in kickbacks in the health agencies. Rep. McCormick (R-GA) lamented his being silenced as a physician during the pandemic, and the government’s refusal to listen to doctors’ advice. Rep. Cloud (R-TX) echoed the call from many Americans at the time of the pandemic that the closure of rural facilities led to many avoidable deaths. Dr. Fauci sought to deflect responsibility for any of the negative effects of Covid protocols, often blaming those effects on the larger bureaucracy. He claimed he either trusted those working under him to make the best call in some cases or had no control over them in others. The Democrats, on the other hand, claimed that Republicans are using the subcommittee hearing to distract from Trump’s purportedly failed response to the pandemic. They argued that the committee was wasting taxpayer dollars, only serving to scapegoat Dr. Fauci, whom they lauded as a patriot. Democrats on the subcommittee used much of their time in the hearing to apologize profusely to Dr. Fauci for the behavior of their Republican colleagues, and to redirect the blame for the mishandling of the COVID-19 pandemic onto the Trump Administration. While Dr. Fauci managed to avoid and deny during this hearing, many members of Congress continue their efforts to hold public health officials and decision makers accountable, both in the House and the Senate.

Our experience at the hearing proved to be educational. Between the hecklers in the audience and the back-and-forth dialogue between the Democratic and Republican members of the select subcommittee, we remained captivated the entire time. Because we sought to arrive at Rayburn so early, we were rewarded with fantastic seats behind Dr. Fauci’s seat. With these choice seats, it was a great experience to take in the process of congressional committee hearings and witness Dr. Fauci’s testimony first-hand.




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