WASHINGTON — U.S. Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene of Rome on Tuesday led a group of House Republicans calling for the firing of Dr. Anthony Fauci, formalizing their intense criticism of his public statements and actions throughout the coronavirus pandemic into legislation.
Those GOP lawmakers can’t actually oust Fauci from his post as director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases and a top Biden administration adviser. Instead, the bill led by Greene would eliminate his federal salary, which was more than $417,000 in 2019.
“Dr. Fauci was not elected by the American people. He was not chosen to guide our economy. He was not chosen to rule over parents and their children’s education,” Greene said. “But yet, Dr. Fauci very much controlled our lives for this past year.”
Greene was joined at the news conference by Republican cosponsors of her legislation, including Buddy Carter of Pooler; Reps. Andy Biggs and Paul Gosar of Arizona; and Bob Good, of Virginia.
Their bill has no likelihood of passage in the House, which is controlled by Democrats, but the event gave Greene and other conservatives another chance to attack Fauci, who became the face of the federal government’s response to COVID-19.
They accused him of misleading the public by shifting his guidance on mask-wearing and details of how the virus is transmitted — even though he and other leading scientists have defended the updates to those recommendations as the expected result of learning more about a brand-new health threat.
“As a scientist, as a health official, when those data change, when you get more information, it’s essential that you change your position because you have to be guided by the science and the current data,” Fauci said in a recent interview with MSNBC’s Chuck Todd.
Emails provide base for complaints
Fauci has been a political lightning rod throughout the pandemic, with liberals praising the charismatic public health official and Republicans demonizing him as the Trump administration struggled to contain the virus, at times taking actions counter to Fauci’s counsel.
Those attacks against Fauci have renewed amid the release of thousands of pages of Fauci’s work emails throughout the pandemic, which were acquired by BuzzFeed and The Washington Post via Freedom of Information Act requests.
“He’s an actor, and deserves an Academy Award for best dramatic acting in a pandemic,” Gosar said of Fauci.
Gosar accused Fauci of knowing that the virus causing COVID-19 originated in a lab in Wuhan, China. But Fauci’s emails have not shown that to be the case, and broader evidence remains inconclusive as to the virus’ precise origins.
Others focused on the lockdowns that affected U.S. schools and businesses last year, with Good blaming Fauci for “ridiculous policies that locked down our churches and small businesses.”
The White House has made clear that it is standing with Fauci, with President Joe Biden saying recently that he is “very confident” in Fauci’s ability to do his job.
The GOP news conference came a day after Greene sought to tamp down a wave of criticism she has faced for repeatedly using Holocaust comparisons to criticize face-mask mandates that have been enacted amid the coronavirus pandemic.
Those statements drew a rebuke from Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.), and the prospect of a censure by the U.S. House. On Monday, Greene visited the Holocaust Memorial Museum in D.C., and afterward acknowledged to reporters that some of her past comments were “offensive” and “hurtful.”
“There is no comparison to the Holocaust,” Greene said Monday evening.
Greene was stripped earlier this year of her committee assignments for her past social media postings in which she supported violence against Democratic leaders and lawmakers.