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Top Republicans call on Trump to fund WHO pending director-general's resignation

Top Republicans call on Trump to fund WHO pending director-general's resignation
© getty: World Health Organization (WHO) Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus

Republicans on the House Foreign Affairs Committee applauded President TrumpDonald John TrumpJudge rules to not release Russia probe documents over Trump tweets Trump and advisers considering firing FBI director after election: WaPo Obama to campaign for Biden in Florida MORE’s decision Thursday to suspend funding to the World Health Organization (WHO), calling on the administration to make the United States’s voluntary contributions to the health body contingent on the resignation of WHO Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus. 

In a letter sent to Trump on Thursday, Foreign Affairs Committee ranking member Mike McCaul (R-Texas) and 16 members of the panel raised concerns over the WHO and the Chinese Communist Party's (CCP) initial response to the coronavirus outbreak.

The lawmakers argued that there was misinformation spread during the early stages that led to preventable fatalities across the world. 

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“This resulted in countries around the world, including ours, fighting the virus with incomplete information and valuable time wasted. Sadly, as a result, we will have to count the lives lost in China and around the world for far too long,” they wrote. 

The group went on to note that the U.S. contributes more funding than any other country to the WHO despite having a lower population than some countries.

The lawmakers also blasted the international body for allegedly ignoring early warning signs, citing experts in Taiwan cautioning human-to-human transmission of the virus. 

“As you know, the United States is the largest funder of the WHO, contributing more than $893 million during their current two-year budget cycle. ... In comparison, during the same budget cycle, the People's Republic of China (PRC) contributed approximately $86 million in both assessed dues and voluntary contributions,” they continued. 

”According to a professor of global health law at Georgetown University, the WHO's public statements misled public health experts, giving a false sense of assurance that contributed to the spread of the disease,” they wrote.

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The group went on to criticize the WHO for what it claimed was a delayed decision to declare COVID-19 a pandemic, alleging that Tedros has a “troubled record of response to health emergencies” and a “record of embracing PRC propaganda and policies,” arguing his close ties with the PRC “undermines his ability to serve impartially as Director General.”

“As such, we have lost faith in Director-General Tedros' ability to lead the World Health Organization. We understand, and value, the vital role that the WHO plays around the world, especially in acute humanitarian settings. At times, the WHO is the only organization working on the ground in the worst places in the world, and the U.S. should continue to support this important work,” the letter read.

“In light of the information presented in this letter, we recommend that you condition any future Fiscal Year 2020 voluntary contributions to the WHO on the resignation of Director-General Tedros,” it continued. 

The letter echoes the sentiments of GOP House leaders, who have argued withholding funding is a necessary action to hold the organization accountable for its role in the spread of the virus. 

“I think what the president is saying is he wants more accountability, because what the World Health Organization told the rest of the world put us in a worse place. There are some amazing people who work in the World Health Organization,” House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthyKevin Owen McCarthyMcCarthy faces pushback from anxious Republicans over interview comments McCarthy: 'I would think I already have the votes' to remain as House GOP leader Conservatives seize on New York Post story to push Section 230 reform MORE (R-Calif.) told reporters on Thursday.  

“I think there's a real question, who is the leader of that World Health Organization," he said. "And the president is making sure that there's accountability to the resources and the recommendations they're providing to the rest of the world we should not play politics.”

House Republican Conference Chairwoman Liz CheneyElizabeth (Liz) Lynn CheneyMcCarthy faces pushback from anxious Republicans over interview comments Steve King defends past comments on white supremacy, blasts NYT and GOP leaders in fiery floor speech GOP lawmakers distance themselves from Trump comments on transfer of power MORE (Wyo.) told KFBC Radio that she believes “holding back funding and doing an investigation” is the right course of action. 

“I think that the World Health Organization has a crucial role to play, but as long as the Director of the World Health Organization is somebody who is doing the bidding of the Chinese Communist Party, they’re costing lives not saving lives,” she said. 

While Republicans have largely praised the administration’s decision, top Democrats, foreign leaders and health groups have cautioned the move could hinder the global response in defeating COVID-19. 

Speaker Nancy PelosiNancy PelosiTrump and advisers considering firing FBI director after election: WaPo On The Money: Power players play chess match on COVID-19 aid | Pelosi bullish, Trump tempers optimism | Analysis: Nearly 1M have run out of jobless benefits Overnight Health Care: CDC expands definition of 'close contact' after COVID-19 report | GOP coronavirus bill blocked in Senate | OxyContin maker agrees to B settlement with Trump administration MORE (D-Calif.) went as far as saying the White House’s decision to withhold funding is illegal and that she will do everything in her power to reverse the controversial move. 

“This decision is dangerous, illegal and will be swiftly challenged," she said in a statement.