As World Health Organization (WHO) member states gather in Switzerland this week to negotiate the final terms of an accord that would give centralized authority to the U.N. health agency over U.S. policy in the event of a pandemic, Republican U.S. senators are pushing back with an effort to reinforce congressional power to authorize treaties.
Other sponsors of the bill include Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa), Bill Hagerty (R-Tenn.), John Barrasso (R-Wyo.), Mike Lee (R-Utah), Marsha Blackburn (R-Tenn.), Rick Scott (R-Fla.), John Hoeven (R-N.D.), Marco Rubio (R-Fla.), Ted Cruz (R-Texas), Steve Daines (R-Mont.), Thom Tillis (R-N.C.), Tom Cotton (R-Ark.), Mike Braun (R-Ind.), Tommy Tuberville (R-Ala.), Roger Marshall (R-Kan.), and Katie Britt (R-Ala.).
“The WHO, along with our federal health agencies, failed miserably in their response to COVID-19,” Johnson said. “This failure should not be rewarded with a new international treaty that would increase the WHO’s power at the expense of American sovereignty.”
Blackburn said in a statement that the WHO’s “mismanagement of the COVID-19 pandemic made it abundantly clear that they should never have a say over America’s response to any crisis. It’s time for President Biden to put the rights of the American people ahead of the corrupt public health ‘experts.’”
But some doubt this bill, even if approved, would stop the WHO accord from going into effect once President Joe Biden signs it.
“With all due respect to the sponsoring senators, that will not do the trick,” Francis Boyle, a professor of international law at the University of Illinois College of Law, told The Epoch Times.
The reason is that the WHO accord is drafted specifically to circumvent the Senate-approval process, and Congress instead should immediately withhold its yearly contributions to the WHO and take the United States out of the organization, he said.
Would Biden Need Senate Approval?It isn't clear if the Biden administration will need Senate approval for the WHO accord. The accord itself states that it will become effective and legally binding on member states “provisionally” as soon as it's signed and before any national legislatures approve it.
“The Biden administration can indicate that it is provisionally bringing this treaty into force upon the mere signature of the treaty,” Boyle said. “Hence, it will come into force here in the United States provisionally until the Senate decides whether or not it is going to give its advice and consent to the treaty.
"I personally know of no other U.S. treaty that provides for its provisional application pending the U.S. Senate giving its advice and consent to the treaty.”
While the U.S. Constitution states that the president can make treaties “provided two-thirds of the senators present concur,” U.S. presidents have increasingly been signing international agreements without Senate consent, and those agreements have taken effect in the United States regardless.
“During the first half-century of its independence, the United States was party to 60 treaties but to only 27 published executive agreements,” the report reads. “Between 1939 and 1993, executive agreements comprised more than 90 percent of the international agreements concluded.”
While Republican lawmakers said the agreement has “no path forward” toward approval as a treaty, provisions written into the agreement allow foreign countries to tax U.S.-based corporate profits as a punitive measure if senators don't approve it.