USA

Conservative lawmaker demands White House disband coronavirus task force

Rep. Andy Biggs, chair of the conservative House Freedom Caucus, on Thursday called on the White House to shutter its coronavirus task force, claiming the nation’s top public health experts were undermining President Donald Trump.

“As our economy is restored, it is imperative that President Trump is not undermined in his mission to return our economy to greatness,” the Arizona Republican said in a statement released after the Labor Department reported the U.S. economy had added 4.8 million jobs in June and the unemployment rate had fallen to 11.1 percent.

Biggs went on to assert that Dr. Deborah Birx, the White House coronavirus response coordinator, and Dr. Anthony Fauci, the director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, “continue to contradict many of President Trump’s stated goals and actions for returning to normalcy as we know more about” the highly infectious outbreak.

“This is causing panic that compromises our economic recovery,” Biggs said. “We can protect our most vulnerable from the COVID-19 outbreak while still protecting lives and livelihoods of the rest of the population. It’s time for the COVID-19 task force to be disbanded so that President Trump’s message is not mitigated or distorted.”

The demand from a leading Republican lawmaker and fierce ally of the president comes after the U.S. reported a record number of new Covid-19 infections Wednesday, surpassing 50,000 cases for the first time.

Biggs’ own home state of Arizona is among those across the South and West contributing to the precipitous climbs in caseloads. The Arizona Department of Health Services logged record numbers of daily coronavirus cases and additional deaths Wednesday, while the three most populous states — California, Florida and Texas — have also seen spikes.

And although Biggs echoed the president in touting Thursday’s jobs numbers, the Labor Department’s mid-month survey did not account for the latest wave of shutdowns ordered by governors now halting their states’ reopening plans. Americans filed 1.4 million new applications for unemployment benefits last week, the department reported.

Still, Biggs insisted the U.S. economy “is roaring back as we predicted,” arguing the “pro-growth foundation that President Trump set over the past 3+ years is paying dividends in one of our nation’s most-uncertain times."

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