The Trump administration is withdrawing the United States from the World Health Organization. The administration submitted a letter to the UN but the letter itself hasn’t been made public yet. The Washington Post reports that the U.S. needs to give a year’s notice before withdrawing.
The notice of withdrawal was delivered to United Nations Secretary General Antonio Guterres, said a senior administration official who spoke on the condition of anonymity because the letter has not been made public. Under the terms of a joint resolution passed by Congress in 1948, the United States must give a year’s notice in writing and pay its debts to the agency in order to leave.
It is not clear whether the president can pull the United States out of the organization and withdraw funding without Congress. When Trump first threatened to withdraw, Democratic lawmakers argued that doing so would be illegal and vowed to push back.
Democratic Senator Bob Menendez tweeted that congress had been notified of the withdrawal earlier today.
Congress received notification that POTUS officially withdrew the U.S. from the @WHO in the midst of a pandemic.
To call Trump’s response to COVID chaotic & incoherent doesn’t do it justice. This won’t protect American lives or interests—it leaves Americans sick & America alone.
— Senator Bob Menendez (@SenatorMenendez) July 7, 2020
Other Democrats are weighing in as well:
Trump officially withdrew the United States from the World Health Organization in the middle of a global health crisis.
This move is reckless, short-sighted, and surrenders what was left of America’s leadership on the world stage.
— Kamala Harris (@KamalaHarris) July 7, 2020
This decision is irresponsible, reckless, and utterly incomprehensible. Withdrawing from the @WHO in the midst of the greatest public health crisis of our lifetime is a self-destructive move. More Americans will be hurt by this careless choice. https://t.co/OeSoLikR4f
— Rep. Eric Swalwell (@RepSwalwell) July 7, 2020
Even Hillary is jumping in on this one.
This is the very last thing we need, so of course the Trump administration is doing it. What a self-inflicted disaster. https://t.co/US0KyvLHRa
— Hillary Clinton (@HillaryClinton) July 7, 2020
President Trump has been complaining for a couple months about China having too much control of WHO even though America pays for the bulk of it. In mid-April he announced from the Rose Garden that he was halting funding of the organization while a review of its response to the coronavirus crisis was carried out.
Trump accused the WHO of “severely mismanaging and covering up” the coronavirus crisis, specifically the initial outbreak in Wuhan, China. He took particular issue with the agency’s criticism of his order to temporarily deny entry to the U.S. by most foreign nationals who had recently been in China. The order was issued Jan. 31, when China was the center of the pandemic.
“With the outbreak of the COVID-19 pandemic, we have deep concerns about whether America’s generosity has been put to the best use possible,” Trump said. “The reality is that the WHO failed to adequately obtain and share information in a timely and transparent fashion.
WHO really has favored China’s version of events during the pandemic. Just last month the AP published a story revealing that China was aware early on that China was slow-walking information about the virus. Just a few days ago WHO revised its official timeline about when China notified it about the existence of a cluster of pneumonia cases in Wuhan.
We’re only hearing the very start of this now. It appears congressional Democrats are going to attempt to get involved in this decision. At a minimum they are going to try to drive a few new cycles off it. Get ready to hear the phrase “in the midst of a pandemic” 10,000 times.
Update: Here’s Joe Biden’s reaction or at least his media staff’s reaction in his name.
— Joe Biden (@JoeBiden) July 7, 2020
WHO Director-General Dr. Tedros tweeted this link to a “Why we need the World Health Organization” podcast a moment ago.
— Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus (@DrTedros) July 7, 2020