WASHINGTON (Reuters) – U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said the COVID-19 pandemic shows the need to overhaul the World Health Organization, warning that Washington may never restore WHO funding and could even work to set up an alternative to the U.N. body instead.

As Pompeo launched fresh attacks on the WHO, Democrats in the U.S. House of Representatives accused the Trump administration of trying to “scapegoat” the institution to distract from its own handling of the coronavirus outbreak.

In a letter to President Donald Trump, they called for the immediate restoration of U.S. funding, which Trump suspended last week after accusing the WHO of being “China-centric” and of promoting China’s “disinformation” about the outbreak.

Pompeo told Fox News late on Wednesday there needed to be “a structural fix of the WHO” to correct its “shortcomings.”

Asked if he was urging a change in leadership of the WHO, Pompeo replied: “Even more than that, it may be the case that the United States can never return to underwriting, having U.S. taxpayer dollars go to the WHO.”

In a radio show interview on Thursday, Pompeo was asked if he saw a time when the role of the WHO might be supplanted by another organization. “We’re going to take a look at exactly that issue,” he replied.

“If the institution works and functions, the United States will always lead and be part of it. When it’s not delivering, when in fact it’s failing to get the outcomes that are desired, we’re going to work with partners around the world to deliver a structure, a form, a governance model, that will actually deliver on the intended purposes.”

The WHO has denied the Trump administration’s charges and China insists it has been transparent and open.

The United States has been the biggest overall donor to the WHO, contributing over $400 million in 2019, roughly 15% of its budget. Senior U.S. officials last week told Reuters Washington could redirect these funds to other aid groups.

On Wednesday, Pompeo said the United States “strongly believed” Beijing had failed to report the outbreak in a timely manner, in breach of WHO rules. WHO Director-General Tedros Adhanom did not use his ability “to go public” when a member state failed to follow those rules, Pompeo added.

The acting head of the U.S. Agency for International Development said on Wednesday the United States would assess if the WHO was being run properly and look for alternative partners outside the body.

Any threat to definitively end U.S. funding of the global body would likely hinge on Trump succeeding in his bid for re-election in the November presidential vote against the presumptive Democratic nominee Joe Biden.

The U.S. Congress controls federal spending, and could pass legislation to guarantee funding for the WHO. However, to become law it would need to garner enough support, including from Trump’s Republicans, not just to pass but to override a likely veto.

According to a Reuters tally, the coronavirus pandemic has killed more than 180,000 people worldwide, including nearly 48,000 in the United States, making it the worst-hit country by official statistics.

Reporting by David Brunnstrom, Humeyra Pamuk and Patricia Zengerle; Editing by Bernadette Baum and Tom Brown

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

You May Also Like

Bret Baier challenges Trump 2020 official over explanation of Trump coronavirus comments to Woodward

Tim Murtaugh, director of communications for the Trump campaign, joins Fox News chief political anchor Bret Baier on ‘Special Report.’ “Special Report” anchor Bret Baier pressed Trump 2020 campaign communications director Tim Murtaugh Thursday over his claim that there was no…

Russian Investigation Committee requests arrest of ex-policemen in reporter Golunov’s case

MOSCOW, January 30. /TASS/. The Russian Investigation Committee has requested Moscow’s Basmanny District Court to arrest five former officers from the police force of Moscow’s Western Administrative District detained in the case of Meduza news website reporter Ivan Golunov, a…

Mike Huckabee rejects media narrative on Kamala Harris: ‘You can’t get more liberal’

You can’t get more liberal than Kamala Harris, says Fox News contributor Mike Huckabee, former Republican governor of Arkansas. “You can’t get more liberal than Kamala Harris,” former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee told “Outnumbered Overtime,” reacting to some media outlets describing presumptive…

Ex-GOP chairman Michael Steele blasts McConnell for remarks on Obama

Michael Steele, a former chairman of the Republican National Committee, blasted Sen. Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., for saying that former President Barack Obama “should have kept his mouth shut” and not criticized President Donald Trump. “I’m sure Mitch is aware that…