House Speaker Nancy Pelosi says Democrats will “swiftly” challenge what she called President Trump’s “senseless” and “illegal” suspension of US funding to the World Health Organization.
Trump stopped the funding on Tuesday, saying the WHO needs “meaningful reforms” after failing to report accurate coronavirus data from China, worsening the pandemic’s punch to the US.
But Pelosi said Wednesday the United Nations body is essential to battling COVID-19.
“This is another case, as I have said, of the President’s ineffective response, that ‘a weak person, a poor leader, takes no responsibility. A weak person blames others,’” Pelosi said in a statement.
Pelosi (D-Calif.) did not say how Democrats would fight the suspension of funds, but said, “This decision is dangerous, illegal and will be swiftly challenged.”
“We can only be successful in defeating this global pandemic through a coordinated international response with respect for science and data,.” Pelosi said. “But sadly, as he has since Day One, the President is ignoring global health experts, disregarding science and undermining the heroes fighting on the frontline, at great risk to the lives and livelihoods of Americans and people around the world.”
Trump said Tuesday night in the White House Rose Garden that the WHO failed to warn the world about the highly contagious virus. China notified the WHO on Dec. 31 of the coronavirus outbreak, but allegedly hid data.
“The WHO’s reliance on China’s disclosures likely caused a 20-fold increase in cases worldwide, and it may be much more than that,” Trump said.
“The WHO failed to investigate credible reports from sources in Wuhan that conflicted directly with the Chinese government’s official accounts,” Trump said. “There was credible information to suspect human-to-human transmission in December 2019, which should have spurred the WHO to investigate, and investigate immediately.”
White House coronavirus coordinator Dr. Deborah Birx said at a recent press briefing that Chinese data led experts to believe the virus was less contagious, akin to the related coronavirus SARS, leading to less concern among non-Chinese health officials.
The US was the largest contributor to the WHO, giving $400 million last year.
The US has the world’s largest publicly acknowledged COVID-19 outbreak with more than 610,000 cases and 26,000 deaths. At least 17 million Americans have lost their jobs as businesses close to prevent spread of the virus.