U.S. Senator Chuck Schumer urges Veterans Affairs (VA) to answer the purpose of the recent bulk order for hydroxychloroquine drugs during the COVID-19 pandemic at 780 3rd Avenue.
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Senate minority chairman Chuck Schumer on Tuesday called on HHS Secretary Alex Azar to resign immediately while Democrats investigate whether the Trump administration-appointed people with coronavirus reports from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention interfere.
"The Secretary for Health and Human Services, Alex Azar, not only failed to defend himself against these outrageous moves by President Trump, he was almost completely silent about the chaos and mismanagement in his own agency," said Schumer in the Senate. "In Trump's administration, the most important skill is the ability to stand up to the president and withstand political influence."
House Democrats opened an investigation Monday Monday into a report by Politico calling for Trump-appointed political officials to review and amend weekly CDC scientific reports on the coronavirus pandemic. HHS oversees the CDC and other health agencies such as the Food and Drug Administration.
"It has become very clear that the leadership of the Department of Health and Human Services has enabled what is now perhaps the most important federal agency to submit to the daily whims of the president," said Schumer, D-N.Y. "So today I call on Secretary Azar to resign immediately. We need a Secretary for Health and Human Services who cares about the American people, not President Trump's political interests."
Neither the White House nor HHS responded to a request for comment.
Schumer's appeal comes after Democrats grew concerned that dates and vaccine approvals could be swayed by the White House. In July, the Trump administration ordered hospitals to send coronavirus data directly to HHS, bypassing the CDC. This change raised questions about how the integrity of the data would be maintained.
President Donald Trump's statement that a vaccine could be ready before election day raised flags for lawmakers and infectious disease experts who feared the process would lead to a political advantage. But Trump has denied that it would. White House coronavirus advisor Dr. Anthony Fauci said the vaccine was unlikely to be ready before the election.
This isn't the first time Azar has come under fire this year for handling the pandemic that killed nearly 200,000 Americans. Azar was originally tapped by Trump in January to lead the government's coronavirus response. He served in that role for a little over a month before being replaced by Vice President Mike Pence.
In April, when the real consequences of the U.S.'s failure to conduct an effective coronavirus test became clear, Azar was again in the crosshairs.
At the end of the month it was reported that Trump was planning to replace Azar at HHS. That decision was partly due to Azar's mismanagement of vaccine expert Dr. Rick Bright, who later filed a damn whistleblower complaint alleging retaliation against him by HHS. At the time, the list of people shortlisted for Azar's job was White House Coronavirus Coordinator Dr. Deborah Birx, or Medicare boss Seema Verma. But Trump denied reports of Azar's impending layoff, calling it "false news".
Christina Wilkie from CNBC contributed to this report.
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