For reasons that have never made sense, many Republicans are heavily invested in the idea that Dr. Anthony Fauci must be driven from his current position. They just don’t have any realistic ways of making that happen.
Even Donald Trump couldn’t fire Fauci because the infectious disease expert is not a political appointee. As The Washington Post reported a couple of years ago, “As a career federal employee and director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases since 1984, Fauci is protected by federal civil service regulations that shield him from being fired or demoted for political reasons.”
Of course, after Trump lost, this became a moot point: President Joe Biden not only wanted to keep the celebrated immunologist, the Democrat actually gave Fauci a promotion.
But for some of the scientist’s most unrelenting critics, the crusade must continue. McClatchy reported:
Sen. Rand Paul introduced an amendment Monday that would eliminate Dr. Anthony Fauci’s position as the Director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, marking the latest escalation in his feud with the physician who gained national fame during the pandemic. Paul wants to scrap the singular role of NIAID director and replace it with three separate directors of newly created institutes: a National Institute of Allergic Diseases, a National Institute of Infectious Diseases and a National Institute of Immunologic Diseases.
This is one of those rare instances in which a Republican official from the party’s libertarian wing wants more government bureaucracy: Why have one director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, when we can create new federal institutes, each with their own Senate-confirmed directors?
As part of the rollout of his un-streamline plan, the Kentucky Republican said in a written statement, “We’ve learned a lot over the past two years, but one lesson in particular is that no one person should be deemed “dictator-in-chief.”
I like to think I follow current events fairly closely, but I must have missed the point at which Fauci positioned himself as a “dictator.”
Paul added that his measure is intended to ensure “that ineffective, unscientific lockdowns and mandates are never foisted on the American people ever again,” overlooking the fact that Fauci wasn’t responsible for imposing any lockdowns or mandates on anyone. The director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases doesn’t have that kind of authority.
To be sure, it’s easy to roll one’s eyes at the GOP senator, and there’s no reason to believe Paul’s anti-Fauci plan will work anytime soon. But as we’ve discussed, it’s worth remembering that if Republicans take back a Senate majority in this year’s midterm elections, the Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions (HELP) Committee — which has oversight authority over, among other things, the National Institutes of Health, which houses the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases — might very well be chaired by the confused former ophthalmologist.
It would put Paul in a position to actually pursue many of his strange ideas, including this one.