Pressed in a House hearing to provide clear targets for restoring individual freedoms or answer for the apparent failures of Covid-19 lockdowns, Dr. Anthony Fauci struggled to the point that Democrats cut off GOP questioning.
Asked repeatedly by Representative Jim Jordan (R-Ohio) to provide an infection rate or any timeline for easing Covid-19 restrictions, Fauci, chief medical adviser to President Joe Biden, said cases remain unacceptably high but will gradually come down as more people are vaccinated.
Still pressing for an objective measure, Jordan asked, “What number do we get our liberties back? Tell me the number.” Committee Chairman Jim Clyburn (D-South Carolina) reminded Jordan that his time was up and interjected, saying, “When 90% of the members of Congress get vaccinated,” in an apparent dig at colleagues who have been slow to get their Covid-19 jabs.
“Mr. Chairman, I don’t want you to answer my question,” Jordan said. “The American people want Dr. Fauci to answer the question.”
Representative Maxine Waters (D-California) then rebuked Jordan, saying, “You need to respect the chair and shut your mouth.” Clyburn added, “We’re going to handle this, and I think Mr. Jordan knows me very well. And he knows full well that we’re going to handle this.”
The exchange was one of several heated moments between Jordan and Fauci, who has flip-flopped on Covid-19 advice and admitted last fall to misleading people about vaccination targets to manipulate public opinion. In another round of questions, Jordan tried to get Fauci to answer for why states that followed his Covid-19 lockdowns had the eight highest rates of new infections over the past week, while Texas, which the doctor criticized for ending its pandemic restrictions last month, had one of the lowest rates.
“You gave us your guess on Texas,” Jordan said. “You said when Texas ended their mandate that this was ‘inexplicable’ and would lead to a surge in cases. Texas is near the bottom of the 50 states, but all the states at the top are lockdown states. That guess didn’t seem to be too good.”
Asked to explain the discrepancy, Fauci replied, “There’s a difference between lockdown and the people obeying the lockdown. You know, you could have a situation where they say, ‘We’re going to lock down,’ and yet you have people doing exactly what they want to do.”
Asked if that was his explanation for the top eight states, Fauci said Jordan was speaking too fast for him to hear what the congressman was saying. Jordan then directed Fauci’s attention to his chart on infection rates, but Fauci said it was too far away for him to see.
Jordan noted examples of varying case rates and again asked Fauci to explain, at which point Clyburn said his time was up. Jordan said it was typical to allow a witness to respond to the last question before moving on, but Clyburn then answered for Fauci, suggesting that the doctor’s earlier point on the failure of citizens to obey orders sufficed.
At another point in the hearing, Fauci accused Jordan of “ranting” and making the issue “personal.” Jordan, who argued that American’s constitutional rights had been “trampled” in the past year, said he was merely asking the questions that his constituents want answered.
“You’re the highest-paid official in the US government,” Jordan said. “You’ve given us your advice on baseball, on dating apps, on cruise ships. You told us zero masks, one mask, two masks, now back to one mask. I’m just asking you, when is it going to end?”