The White House is blocking US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention Director Dr. Robert Redfield and other officials from the agency from testifying before a House Education and Labor Committee hearing on reopening schools next week, just as the debate over sending children back to classrooms has flared up across the US.
White House officials informed the committee of its decision in an email, a staff member on the House panel told CNN.
“Dr. Redfield has testified on the Hill at least four times over the last three months. We need our doctors focused on the pandemic response,” a White House official said, confirming the decision to block the CDC’s participation in the hearing.
But a spokesman for the House Education and Labor Committee said the panel had requested testimony from any CDC official, not necessarily Redfield.
“We asked for anyone at CDC who could testify at the hearing. The invite was not for Dr. Redfield or no one,” the official said.
House Education and Labor Chairman Bobby Scott said the testimony from CDC officials is critical to understanding how scientists would manage the reopening of US schools.
“It is alarming that the Trump administration is preventing the CDC from appearing before the Committee at a time when its expertise and guidance is so critical to the health and safety of students, parents, and educators,” the Virginia Democrat said in a statement.
CDC officials have delayed the release of new recommendations for sending children back to classrooms.
Earlier this week, Redfield stressed the wearing of masks as a key component to any strategy for reopening schools.
“Because to me, face coverings are the key. If you really look at it, the data is really clear – they work,” Redfield said.
Manu Raju contributed to this story.