At the State Department, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo has called for the release of political prisoners around the world, citing the virus instead of earlier arguments.
Meantime, the White House has informed the House Oversight and Reform Committee that members of its coronavirus task force will not be testifying before the panel. The Trump administration said the officials could not be available for three weeks because they were “directly focused on executing its day-to-day response to Covid-19.”
But the halt, Democrats said, appeared to be in line with the stonewalling the administration has engaged in since the Mueller investigation and the impeachment process, and came after testimony by health officials in the administration had raised serious questions about the White House response.
Some lawmakers said the crisis was presenting the administration with a mixed bag of policies that furthered its agenda, and ones that ran counter to it.
“They’re exploiting it for their ideological purposes, but they’re also having to simply acquiesce on traditional Democratic and progressive values as well,” said Representative Gerald E. Connolly, Democrat of Virginia. He noted that Republicans and Mr. Trump had been forced to support paid family leave, as well as the largest stimulus bill in history in a rush, “signing into law things they have historically opposed.”
Opponents of Mr. Trump’s policies have also cited the national emergency in urging the president to pull back on his tariffs and relax enforcement by the Department of Housing and Urban Development and Immigration and Customs Enforcement, the agency tasked with deporting immigrants in the United States illegally.
Representative Bennie Thompson of Mississippi, the chairman of the House Homeland Security Committee, said on Thursday that in order to ensure rapid testing of the coronavirus and provide care to the ill, “the Trump administration must state — publicly, formally and clearly — that all ICE raids will stop during this crisis except against felons or those who pose a risk to national security.”