Per CTMirror Several House Republicans left a closed-door coronavirus briefing on Friday after Rep. Rosa DeLauro spoke critically of the Trump administration’s efforts to protect the American public from the global epidemic.
According to a transcript, DeLauro, D-3rd District, said she supported the administration’s declaration of a public health emergency that allows states like Connecticut more flexibility in spending federal public health money.
“That said, I have grave concerns about the lack of transparency and unwillingness to allow public health experts to speak freely about what is happening,” DeLauro said. There are reports that Vice President Mike Pence, appointed by President Donald Trump to lead the coronavirus response, wants to coordinate all messaging from public health officials about the virus.
DeLauro, the chairwoman of the House Appropriations subcommittee in charge of the Department of Health and Human Services budget, also said, “I have serious concerns about the administration’s responsiveness with respect to funding.”
“We have repeatedly asked for information about expenditures,” she said. “And thus far, we have not received adequate answers.”
“I have grave concerns about the lack of transparency and unwillingness to allow public health experts to speak freely about what is happening.”
Rep. Rosa DeLauro
According to POLITICO, some Republicans booed DeLauro as she spoke.
Rep. Paul Mitchell, R-Mich., who was among the GOP walkouts, said, “If I wanted to hear the politics of it, I’d read POLITICO or something.”
Politico reports DeLauro’s comments were indicative of the growing political tensions around the Trump administration’s handling of the coronavirus response. President Donald Trump, who has publicly tried to downplay the virus through a series of misleading claims, just after midnight took to Twitter to complain that Democrats were pinning the crisis on him.
But at least one Democrat was also irritated by DeLauro’s remarks. Rep. Donna Shalala (D-Fla.), who led the health department under President Bill Clinton, said it wasn’t the appropriate setting for the criticism.
“No one wanted to hear that, either the Democrats or Republican. We just wanted to hear the substance,” she said.
DeLauro, the leading House health appropriator, accused the administration of a lack of urgency and warned that there were several crucial questions that remained unanswered about the coronavirus response. As lawmakers transferred to a bigger room to accommodate all the attendees, a visibly frustrated DeLauro told colleagues she didn’t “give a rat’s ass” and about the reaction and that members needed answers from the administration.
“I feel that the issue on resources and current expenditures has been less than adequate and that these are some of the questions that we have to get answered,” she told reporters afterward, and her office later released a transcript of her remarks. “I quite frankly don’t worry about people who may have a concern. I just know that the questions are right.”
DeLauro has sparred with health officials for weeks over funding for the response, who rebuffed her early requests for information on how much money HHS was spending to fight the coronavirus outbreak.
Several Democrats downplayed DeLauro’s speech, saying that it spoke to the urgency of the situation. One person in the room characterized her opening remarks as “a truly low-key Rosa DeLauro,” adding that she was “at a 2” out of 10.