A Senate panel this week will consider proposals to diminish Dr. Anthony Fauci’s current job and expand accountability at the Centers for Disease and Prevention, as Republicans push for control of bureaucratic overreach they say was prominent during the COVID-19 pandemic.
The Senate Health, Education, Labor, and Pension Committee, known as the HELP Committee, is set to consider on Tuesday a bill focused on pandemic preparedness.
One proposal by Senate Republicans—sponsored by Mike Lee of Utah and Tommy Tuberville of Alabama—would require Senate confirmation for the CDC director. Originally a standalone bill last fall, this proposal is now part of larger, bipartisan legislation called the PREVENT Pandemics Act.
So far, no amendment is proposed to strike the provision on Senate confirmation.
“I don’t think there’s any doubt, it needs to be [a] confirmed position. If we’re going to allow the CDC director to put forth mandates for the entire country, and different other mandates, we need to have the best person for the job and shouldn’t just be appointed,” Tuberville told reporters last month.
Sen. Rand Paul, R-Ky., a member of the Senate committee considering the pandemic bill, introduced an amendment Monday that would divide Fauci’s job—director of the National Institutes of Allergy and Infectious Diseases—into three separate positions.
“We’ve learned a lot over the past two years, but one lesson in particular is that no one person should be deemed ‘dictator-in-chief.’ No one person should have unilateral authority to make decisions for millions of Americans,” Paul said in a prepared statement.
Each of three directorships under Paul’s proposal would head a new institute at the National Institutes of Health: Allergic Diseases; Infectious Diseases; and Immunologic Diseases.
Paul and Fauci have clashed over the facts on COVID-19 during several recent public hearings. Fauci, an immunologist whose current salary is more than $400,000, has headed the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases since 1984.
“To ensure that ineffective, unscientific lockdowns and mandates are never foisted on the American people ever again, I’ve introduced this amendment to eliminate Dr. Anthony Fauci’s position as director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases and divide his power into three separate new institutes,” Paul said. “This will create accountability and oversight into a taxpayer-funded position that has largely abused its power, and has been responsible for many failures and misinformation during the COVID-19 pandemic.”
The Lee-Tuberville bill would amend the 1944 Public Health Service Act to require that the Senate confirm the president’s nomination of a director for the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Under current law, the president alone has the authority to appoint the CDC director.
Last week, Senate committee Chairwoman Patty Murray, D-Wash., and ranking member Richard Burr, R-N.C., announced the PREVENT Pandemics Act. (The acronym stands for Prepare for and Respond to Existing Viruses, Emerging New Threats.)
The legislation includes a provision to “ensure the CDC’s accountability and leadership by requiring a Senate-confirmed CDC director and an agency-wide strategic plan.”
Murray and Burr said the bill also would strengthen supply chains and government stockpiles of medical products, improve public health communication and address misinformation, establish an independent task force to conduct a comprehensive review of the COVID-19 response, and establish a related new office in the White House.
Have an opinion about this article? To sound off, please email [email protected] and we’ll consider publishing your edited remarks in our regular “We Hear You” feature. Remember to include the URL or headline of the article plus your name and town and/or state.