Presumptive Democrat nominee Joe Biden promised Tuesday that if he's elected president, he'll rejoin the World Health Organization. This, after President Donald Trump's earlier in the day announced that the United States would begin moving to withdraw from the agency, which Trump has dubbed a Chinese puppet that too readily accepted Beijing data on the early spread of the coronavirus.
Not long after Biden's statement, though, Vice President Mike Pence hit back, siding with the administration and saying he wasn't surprised that the former VP "wants to keep us roped into another international organization."
For Biden, critical of the Trump administration's distancing from international allies and global ties, the break with WHO is another policy in need of speedy reversal.
"Americans are safer when America is engaged in strengthening global health," Biden tweeted. "On my first day as President, I will rejoin the @WHO and restore our leadership on the world stage."
Under federal law, the withdrawal can't take place for another year; this week's actions marked the official beginning of the process.
Pence quickly panned Biden's comments, telling Fox News' Bret Baier that Biden also condemned Trump's actions when he suspended travel from China at the end of January. That, he said, bought the nation valuable time to "reinvent testing," invest in personal protective equipment and begin the process of pursuing therapies and vaccines for the coronavirus.
Said Pence, "If Joe Biden would've had his way we literally would've had tens of millions of more Chinese coming into our country and spreading the pandemic and putting more and more Americans at risk."
News broke on Trump's move to withdraw from the WHO Tuesday afternoon, after Sen. Bob Menendez, D-N.J., posted about the development on Twitter and slammed Trump's response to the coronavirus pandemic.
A senior Trump administration official later confirmed the move to Newsmax, saying that the "United States' notice of withdrawal, effective July 6, 2021, has been submitted to the UN Secretary-General, who is the depository for the WHO."
Trump in April said his administration halted funding to the WHO, accusing it of mismanaging and covering up the coronavirus crisis on behalf of China.
Tuesday's news met with criticism from both sides of the aisle.
Sen. Lamar Alexander, R-Tennessee, said he disagrees with Trump's decision, even though he thinks there must be a "good hard look" at mistakes the WHO made in connection with the coronavirus, reported WJHL in his home state. "The time to do that is after the crisis has been dealt with, not in the middle of it. Withdrawing U.S. membership could, among other things, interfere with clinical trials that are essential to the development of vaccines, which citizens of the United States, as well as others in the world, need."
Former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton also slammed Trump's move to withdraw, tweeting that it is "the very last thing we need, so of course, the Trump administration is doing it. What a self-inflicted disaster."
House Speaker Nancy Pelosi also came out against the move, tweeting that it is "an act of true senselessness" as the agency "coordinates the global fight against COVID-19. With millions of lives at risk, the President is crippling the international effort to defeat the virus."
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