GOP lawmakers, health experts clash over vaccination progress, border response

Washington-DC

WASHINGTON (NEXSTAR) — The House committee tasked with overseeing the federal response to the COVID-19 pandemic grilled the nation’s top health experts Thursday over the state of vaccinations in the U.S.

Democrats applauded the progress, but Republicans did not get all the answers they were hoping for.

“We are on the path to finally defeat this virus,” said House Majority Whip Jim Clyburn, D-SC.

Clyburn reported about 70 million Americans are fully vaccinated, but Rep. Mark Green, R-TN, worries about another growing number.

“Thousands and thousands of Covid-positive immigrants are being released into the U.S.,” Green said.

Green, along with House Minority Whip Steve Scalise, R-LA, recently traveled to the border. Scalise said he flew back with migrants who were not tested for COVID-19.

“They’re violating every guidance Americans are required to follow,” Scalise said.

Scalise urged CDC Director Dr. Rochelle Walensky and Dr. Anthony Fauci to take the same trip.

“Look at these pictures. Dr. Fauci, does this look like social distancing to you that you require when you talk about six feet?,” Scalise asked.

“No,” Fauci responded.

“If this committee fails to address this, this committee has no credibility whatsoever,” Green said.

There is also growing impatience among Republicans who want simple answers to what the nation’s top health experts call complex questions.

“What number do we get our liberties back? Tell me the number,” Rep. Jim Jordan, R-OH, asked Fauci.

“When 90 percent of the members of Congress get vaccinated,” Clyburn responded.

“But you’re not a doctor, Mr. Clyburn. He is,” Jordan said.

Fauci told Jordan he cannot say what percentage of vaccinations will allow the U.S. to completely return to normal as new cases and hospitalizations continue to climb in some states.

“Right now, we’re at an unacceptably high level,” Fauci said.

That’s why Fauci encourages Americans to not only get vaccinated, but also continue wearing masks and avoiding crowds. In response to the continued Johnson and Johnson vaccine pause, White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki said Thursday the FDA review should give the public additional confidence in the shot, and the U.S. will still have the supply needed to meet the demand.

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