Members of the Energy and Commerce Committee recently held a news conference to address what they perceive as Health and Human Services Secretary Xavier Becerra’s failure to lawfully reappoint 14 National Institutes of Health (NIH) officials, including Dr. Anthony Fauci. According to the bipartisan 21st Century Cures Act passed in 2016, the HHS Secretary is required to reappoint NIH Institute and Center Directors every five years. However, the committee claims that Becerra did not fulfill this obligation, resulting in officials like Fauci holding unlawful positions and exercising unauthorized authority, including approving $26 billion in grants.
Energy and Commerce Chair Cathy McMorris Rodgers criticized the lack of accountability at the agency, which she believes has eroded public trust, especially during the COVID-19 pandemic. She accused the NIH of misleading the committee during the investigation and emphasized the importance of providing documents to prove that Becerra reappointed the officials. Rodgers stressed that no one should be above the law, and taxpayers have the right to know that their money is being spent responsibly and lawfully by authorized individuals.
Health Subcommittee Chair Brett Guthrie also raised concerns about the decisions made by the officials after their supposed terms expired in 2021. Guthrie specifically targeted Fauci, expressing his belief that it is unfair for Fauci to have used his platform as the voice of science while allegedly holding his position unlawfully. Guthrie criticized Fauci for dismissing alternative viewpoints and promoting questionable public health guidance policies.
In addition to the news conference, the committee announced plans to hold a hearing with Secretary Becerra at the end of the month. This hearing will likely delve further into the alleged failure to reappoint the NIH officials and the consequences of their unauthorized positions. Conservatives involved in the committee aim to hold the HHS Secretary accountable and shed light on the importance of adhering to the law and ensuring transparency in government agencies.