E&C Republicans Ask Secretary Becerra for Documents Showing Lawful Appointment of New NIAID Director
Washington, D.C. — House Energy and Commerce Committee Chair Cathy McMorris Rodgers (R-WA), Health Subcommittee Chair Brett Guthrie (R-KY), and Oversight and Investigations Subcommittee Chair Morgan Griffith (R-VA), on behalf of the Health and Oversight Subcommittee Republicans, sent a letter to Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) Secretary Xavier Becerra. The letter requests the documents signed by HHS Secretary Becerra appointing Dr. Jeanne Marrazzo to a five-year term to serve as Director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID) at the National Institutes of Health (NIH).
Last month, the committee uncovered that Secretary Becerra failed to properly appoint 14 Institute and Center (IC) directors at the NIH. The committee is seeking assurances that Dr. Marrazzo has or will be properly appointed in accordance with the Constitution and the 21st Century Cures Act.
“We write today because we are concerned that you may be continuing on an unconstitutional appointment process in an effort to avoid accountability for your previous failure to properly reappoint the 14 IC Directors in December 2021.
“On August 2, 2023, the NIH issued a press release announcing the appointment of Dr. Jeanne Marrazzo as director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID) and that she would oversee NIAID’s $6.3 billion budget. The press release stated that Dr. Lawrence Tabak, the Acting Director for the NIH, named her to this position. The press release included no statement from you or any indication that you had a role in her appointment.
HHS has acknowledged the Secretary must appoint NIH IC directors. The May 5, 2023, response letter from Health and Human Services (HHS) Assistant Secretary Melanie Egorin stated the HHS Secretary is the approving official for NIH IC director appointments and the NIH director is the recommending official. Her letter unequivocally states: “NIH IC Directors are recommended for appointment by the NIH Director and approved for appointment by the Secretary of the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS).” Further, you signed affidavits of reappointment with prospective effect of certain NIH IC directors in June 2023. Your affidavits expressly invoked the Appointments Clause, which tacitly acknowledges that the IC Directors are inferior officers of the United States."
“Further, even under HHS’s changed position, Dr. Tabak, as the Acting NIH Director, lacks the authority to make Dr. Marrazzo’s appointment, if in fact he made the appointment.”
“Since the enactment of the 21st Cures Act in 2016, it is our understanding that the HHS Secretary in the previous administration personally approved the appointments of NIH IC directors. This precedent, the clear commands of the U.S. Constitution’s Appointments Clause along with your affidavits of prospective reappointments and HHS correspondence indicate you are required to appoint all NIH IC Directors, including Dr. Jeanne Marrazzo to be the Director of NIAID.”
CLICK HERE to read the full letter.
CLICK HERE to read more about the committee’s investigation and findings.
CLICK HERE to read a transcript of Chair Rodgers’ questioning of Secretary Becerra regarding the appointment of IC Directors at a July 26th hearing.