The World Health Organization is accused of looking the other way in China’s underreporting of coronavirus cases; Gillian Turner reports from Washington.
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Rep. Guy Reschenthaler, R-Pa., introduced a resolution in the House of Representatives Tuesday that calls for the United States to defund the World Health Organization (WHO) until its embattled Director-General Dr. Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus resigns and the United Nations-backed organization is investigated over its treatment of China during the coronavirus pandemic.
Reschenthaler, along with more than 20 other House Republican co-sponsors, backed the resolution that says “the United States should withhold the contribution of Federal funds to the World Health Organization until Director-General Tedros Ghebreyesus resigns and an international commission to investigate the World Health Commission is established.”
As reasons for why the U.S. should take such action, the resolution cites a Jan. 14 WHO tweet that “preliminary investigations conducted by Chinese authorities” indicated the coronavirus did not transmit between people, Jan. 30 comments from Tedros discouraging a travel ban or similar action from governments to fight the coronavirus, and a comment from Tedros that he was “left in absolutely no doubt about China’s commitment to transparency,” on the coronavirus.
The House resolution comes as pressure is ratcheting up on the WHO and Tedros with more and more American politicians, largely on the Republican side of the aisle, calling for the director-general’s resignation as information emerges indicating that China was not forthright in reporting its coronavirus data.
Sen. Rick Scott, R-Fla., called not for an international commission, but for a congressional committee to investigate the World Health Organization to decide whether the group is deserving of American taxpayer money.
“When it comes to coronavirus, the WHO failed. They need to be held accountable for their role in promoting misinformation and helping Communist China cover up a global pandemic,” Scott said last week. “We know Communist China is lying about how many cases and deaths they have, what they knew and when they knew it – and the WHO never bothered to investigate further.”
A Scott spokesperson on Monday told Fox News that Scott believes “Dr. Tedros’ resignation would definitely be warranted.”
The United States is the single largest contributor to the WHO. The most recent invoice from the WHO to the United States, which is one of many countries that fund the organization, was for nearly $116 million per year. The United States also voluntarily gives between approximately $100 million and $400 million more per year to the WHO for specific projects – contributions that totaled over $400 million in 2017, the most recent year for which figures are available.
That means the United States contributed over $500 million in total to the WHO that year, which is just under one-quarter of the organization’s yearly budget. The WHO’s total budget for 2016 and 2017 combined was over $4 billion.
Reps. Matt Gaetz, R-Fla.; Doug Collins, R-Ga.; Chip Roy, R-Texas; Paul Gosar, R-Ariz.; and Fred Keller, R-Pa., are among the original co-sponsors on the resolution.
“The United States’ intelligence community has reported that the Chinese government hid the threat of COVID-19 and, as a result, made it difficult for the rest of the world to respond early, appropriately and aggressively,” Keller said in a statement on the resolution. “For reasons beyond understanding, the World Health Organization acted as a silent partner in this effort instead of protecting the lives of millions across the world, including hundreds of thousands of American citizens.”