Tags: China | Coronavirus | Donald Trump | Health Topics | Trump Administration | world health organization | who

Trump Orders Halt to US Funding for WHO During Review of Its Pandemic Response

(C-SPAN)

Tuesday, 14 April 2020 07:21 PM

President Donald Trump has issued instructions for his administration to halt funding to the World Health Organization, he announced Tuesday.

"Today, I'm instructing my administration to halt funding of the World Health Organization while a review is conducted to assess the World Health Organization's role in severely mismanaging and covering up the spread of the coronavirus," Trump told reporters during Tuesday's coronavirus task force briefing in the White House Rose Garden.

"Everybody knows what's going on there. American taxpayers provided between $400 million and $500 million per year to the WHO. In contrast, China contributes $40 million a year – or even less. As the organization's leading sponsor, the United States has a duty to insist on full accountability."​

Trump specifically mentioned the WHO's culpability in opposing travel bans, which Trump said would have cost lives in America and did cost lives in European countries that listened to WHO's anti-ban guidance.

"One of the most dangerous and costly decisions from the WHO was its disastrous decision to oppose travel restrictions from China and other nations," Trump said. "They were very much opposed to what we did. Fortunately, I was not convinced and suspended travel from China, saving untold numbers of lives. Thousands and thousands of people would have died.

"Had other nations likewise suspended travel from China countless more lives would have been saved. Instead, look at the rest of the world and look at parts of Europe. Other nations and regions who follow WHO guidelines and kept their borders open to China accelerated the pandemic all around the world.

"Many countries, they said, 'we will listen to the WHO,' and they have problems with the likes of which they cannot believe. Nobody can believe."​

As CNBC reported, it's not clear what mechanism Trump intends to use to hold back the funding, much of it appropriated by Congress. Presidents typically don't have authority to unilaterally redirect such funding, the news organization said. 

It speculated that he could use powers granted to the White House by the Impoundment Control Act of 1974. This lets a president propose to withhold funds, something Congress must then OK within 45 days, lest it be returned to its original purpose.

Trump's order came even as he was being urged to defer a decision. One person who has appealed to Trump is United Nations Secretary-General Antonio Guterres, who, through the U.S. ambassador to the U.N., made the case that there will be time to apportion blame for the pandemic – but perhaps not while the outbreak is still growing.

Guterres' appeal was just one consideration the administration has been weighing, but the U.N. chief acknowledged WHO missteps in the pandemic, specifically by the agency's director-general, Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, one person familiar with the conversations said.

Tedros has become a pariah among some Trump supporters, who have sought to blame the pandemic on the WHO as scrutiny of the president’s actions has increased and public approval of his handling of the crisis has fallen. They blame the WHO and Tedros in particular, saying they were too accommodating to Beijing and failed to adequately warn the world of the threat posed by the virus, which first emerged in the Chinese city of Wuhan.

The U.S. has since become the epicenter of the global outbreak, with more than 582,000 reported cases and more than 23,000 deaths. Trump said Friday that he would make an announcement about U.S. funding for the WHO this week.

The U.S. has contributed about $893 million to the WHO's operations during its current two-year funding cycle, according to the organization. China has given about $86 million over the same period.

Some aides to the president had argue that cuts to the WHO now could be counterproductive because it is one of the few agencies with access to some of the world's most vulnerable populations in Yemen, Libya and Syria, which could all be hit hard by the virus, according to one person.

The president has sought in the past to cut U.S. contributions to the World Health Organization, even before the virus outbreak. In its proposed 2021 budget, the administration called for reducing voluntary contributions to the WHO by more than half, to about $58 million.

Trump repeatedly praised China and its president, Xi Jinping, for its handling of the coronavirus outbreak in January and February. But he said Friday that the WHO is "very, very China-centric. China always seems to get the better of the argument, and I don't like that."

At his Tuesday virus briefing at the White House, Trump specifically asserted the agency had stood in opposition to travel bans, at a cost of lives across Europe.

"One of the most dangerous and costly decisions from the WHO was its disastrous decision to oppose travel restrictions from China and other nations," Trump said. "They were very much opposed to what we did. Fortunately, I was not convinced and suspended travel from China, saving untold numbers of lives. Thousands and thousands of people would have died.

"Had other nations likewise suspended travel from China, countless more lives would have been saved. Instead, look at the rest of the world and look at parts of Europe. Other nations and regions who follow WHO guidelines and kept their borders open to China accelerated the pandemic all around the world."

Newsmax's Jeffrey Rubin and Eric Mack contributed to this report.

© Copyright 2020 Bloomberg News. All rights reserved.


   
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President Donald Trump has issued instructions for his administration to halt funding to the World Health Organization, he announced Monday.
world health organization, who, funding, review, travel ban
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2020-21-14
Tuesday, 14 April 2020 07:21 PM
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