Senate panel to consider Rand Paul proposal to weaken Fauci job

A Senate panel will consider proposals this week to slash Dr. Anthony Fauci’s current job and expand accountability to the Centers for Disease and Prevention, as Republicans push to rein in the excessive bureaucracy they say was important during the COVID-19 pandemic.

The Senate Committee on Health, Education, Labor and Pensions, known as the HELP Committee, is expected to consider a bill Tuesday focused on pandemic preparedness.

A proposal from Senate Republicans — sponsored by Mike Lee of Utah and Tommy Tuberville of Alabama — would require Senate confirmation for the CDC director. Originally a stand-alone bill last fall, this proposal is now part of broader bipartisan legislation called the PREVENT Pandemics Act.

So far, no amendment has been proposed to remove the Senate confirmation provision.

“I don’t think there is any doubt it must be [a] confirmed position. If we’re going to allow the CDC director to come up with nationwide terms, and different other terms, we have to have the best person for the job and not just be nominated,” Tuberville told reporters last month.

Sen. Rand Paul, R-Ky., a member of the Senate committee reviewing the pandemic bill, introduced an amendment on Monday that would split the work of Fauci — director of the National Institutes of Allergy and Infectious Diseases — into three separate positions.

“We have learned a lot over the past two years, but one lesson in particular is that no one should be seen as a ‘dictator-in-chief’. No one should have the unilateral power to make decisions for millions of Americans,” Paul said in a prepared statement.

Each of the three directorships under Paul’s proposal would lead a new institute at the National Institutes of Health: Allergic Diseases; Infectious diseases; and immunological diseases.

Paul and Fauci have clashed over the facts of COVID-19 in several recent public hearings. Fauci, an immunologist with a current salary of over $400,000, has headed the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases since 1984.

“To ensure that ineffective, unscientific lockdowns and mandates are never again imposed on the American people, I have introduced this amendment to eliminate the position of Dr. Anthony Fauci as Director of the National Institute of Allergy and Diseases. infectious diseases and divide its power into three new separate institutes,” Paul said. “It will create accountability and oversight in a taxpayer-funded position that has grossly abused its power and been responsible for many failures and misinformation during the COVID-19 pandemic.”

The Lee-Tuberville bill would amend the Public Health Services Act of 1944 to require the Senate to confirm the president’s nomination of a director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Under current law, only the president has the power to appoint the director of the CDC.

Last week, Senate Committee Chair Patty Murray, D-Wash., and Ranking Member Richard Burr, RN.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 CDC accountability and leadership by requiring a Senate-confirmed CDC director and an agency-wide strategic plan.”

Murray and Burr said the bill would also strengthen supply chains and government inventories of medical products, improve public health communication and combat misinformation, establish an independent task force to conduct a comprehensive review of the COVID-19 response and would establish a new related office in the White House.

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