Bush Will Not Name Fauci Director of NIH, St. Louis Dispatch Reports
The Bush administration will not name Anthony Fauci as the director of the NIH because of administrative and political issues, including Fauci's unknown stance on abortion rights, according to an unidentified official in the administration, the AP/St. Louis Post-Dispatch reports. Instead, President Bush is "close" to naming an unidentified alternate candidate. The AP/Post-Dispatch reports that HHS Secretary Tommy Thompson has been "pushing" for Fauci -- who has been the director of NIH's National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases since 1984 -- to be named NIH director since the summer. However, administration officials are concerned with Fauci's silence on "whether he supports abortion rights." According to the AP/Post-Dispatch, Fauci in the past has called research using tissue from aborted fetuses "scientifically significant." In addition, Fauci has indicated that he would like to continue his work as "[o]ne of the nation's top AIDS researchers" if chosen to head NIH. Fauci has declined offers to head the agency from former presidents because of "[s]imilar concerns" over having time for research, although "friends say" that Fauci "hoped to make it work" this time. Officials from the Bush administration said that Fauci's "desire to continue scientific research" was "at least as important" as the abortion issue in denying his bid for the position. The AP/Post-Dispatch reports that the administration could fill the position "as early as this month" (AP/St. Louis Post-Dispatch, 2/16).