U.S. Rep. Guy Reschenthaler (R-Pa.) has introduced a new bill to withhold federal funding to the World Health Organization (WHO) until its current Director-General Tedros Ghebreyesus resigns.
The bill, introduced on April 7, called for Ghebreyesus’ resignation and the establishment of an international commission to investigate the WHO—before any congressional funding should resume.
The escalating pandemic began in Wuhan, the capital of Hubei province. The virus has since spread to more than 200 countries and territories, and killed more than 85,600 outside of mainland China.
Reschenthaler said WHO was complicit in Beijing’s coverup. “Instead of working to save lives around the world, WHO stood by and downplayed the severity of the virus so as not to offend Chinese officials.”
The lawmaker also explained that the United States is the largest contributor to the WHO, making up “22 percent of the WHO’s assessed funds from member nations,” according to WHO data. The United States also provides voluntary funds to WHO through congressionally appropriated global health programs and humanitarian accounts.
Reschenthaler said he believed the money should no longer go to WHO, as “it is not right that Americans’ hard-earned tax dollars are being used to propagate China’s lies and hide information that could have saved lives.”
The bill has more than 20 co-sponsors, including Liz Cheney (R-Wy.), Scott Perry (R-Pa.), Brian Babin (R-Texas), Paul Gosar (R-Ariz.), Greg Steube (R-Fla.), Jim Banks (R-Ind.), and Matt Gaetz (R-Fla).
“I hope my colleagues join me to hold WHO responsible for playing politics rather than focusing on its mission to coordinate global efforts on public health crises like the one we are currently experiencing,” Reschenthaler concluded.
Trump said at a Tuesday evening briefing that the United States would halt funding to the WHO.
The President added: “Fortunately I rejected their advice on keeping our borders open to China early on. Why did they give us such a faulty recommendation?”
David Heymann, a professor of infectious disease epidemiology at the London School of Hygiene & Tropical Medicine, told Reuters that any U.S. funding cut would be a huge blow to the organization.
“If the WHO loses its funding it cannot continue to do its work. It works on a shoe-string budget already,” Heymann said.