On Monday, April 27, 2020, the US House of Representatives Foreign Affairs Committee convened an inquiry into President Donald Trump’s decision of blocking federal funds for the World Health Organization (WHO). The committee has issued an order for the State Department to provide the relevant information on Trump’s decision in a week’s time.
Committee Inquiry on Trump
Democratic Representative Eliot Engel, who is the committee’s chairman, stated that he agreed with terms given to the United Nations (UN) health agency as “imperfect” and would support the reforms of the international organization. Nonetheless, Engel emphasized in a letter to Secretary of State, Mike Pompeo, “Certainly, cutting the WHO’s funding while the world confronts the COVID-19 tragedy is not the answer.”
In the letter, Engel asked the State Department to submit 11 sets of documents or other information regarding the decision of the Trump administration to ban federal funding on the WHO no later than 5 PM on May 4. Citing the authority of a committee chairman to issue subpoenas to federal agencies, Engel warned that the committee would take all necessary measures at its disposal if the State Department fails to respond to the query.
The committee has requested all materials including a list of inter-agency meetings that took place between December 1 and April 14, a list of legal authorities under which the administration decided to impose the suspension of funds, and documents related to the administration’s investigation of the WHO.
Criticisms against Trump’s Ban on the WHO
Trump announced the suspension of US funding aids to the WHO on April 14, accusing the UN agency of being “China-centric” and promoting China’s “disinformation” about the coronavirus outbreak. Trump criticized the WHO alleging that it withheld the correct information of the virus outbreak of China and could have prevented the pandemic from spreading across the globe.
WHO officials have denied the claims and China also declared that their process towards the virus outbreak was transparent and accountable. The harsh decision of the US, the largest WHO’s donor, had prompted immediate and widespread criticism from US allies abroad as well as the opposition leaders, medical professionals, and health experts within the country.
Some Democrats even accused the Republican president of using the WHO and China as scapegoats to distract public focus from his responsibility towards the virus outbreak since they viewed that Trump’s mishandling of a pandemic has cost the lives of nearly 55,000 Americans and hammered the country’s economy. Meanwhile, Trump’s fellow Republicans have defended the president and supported his methods of handling the health crisis by even pressuring on WHO’s Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus for resignation.
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