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GOP senators target WHO as part of coronavirus probe

GOP senators target WHO as part of coronavirus probe
© Greg Nash

A group of Republican senators are homing in on the World Health Organization (WHO) as they launch a probe into the coronavirus response, which is expected to include a focus on China's handling of the disease.

Seven senators sent a letter on Tuesday to Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, the head of the organization, saying they were requesting information ahead of a congressional hearing on the WHO's role in "helping the Chinese Communist Party cover up information regarding the threat of the Coronavirus."

"American taxpayers fund the WHO, and it is up to us to make sure those taxpayer dollars are being spent wisely," they added.

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GOP Sens. Rick Scott (Fla.), Ron JohnsonRonald (Ron) Harold JohnsonMarjorie Taylor Greene's delay tactics frustrate GOP Democrats gear up for PR battle on COVID-19 relief Johnson says leaving office after 2022 'probably my preference now' MORE (Wis.), Todd YoungTodd Christopher YoungSenate rejects Cruz effort to block stimulus checks for undocumented immigrants Overnight Defense: White House open to reforming war powers | Army base might house migrant children | Fauci scolds military on vaccine White House open to reforming war powers amid bipartisan push MORE (Ind.), Kevin CramerKevin John CramerSenate braces for 'God-awful,' 'stupid' session ahead of COVID-19 relief vote Ron Johnson grinds Senate to halt, irritating many Senate votes to take up COVID-19 relief bill MORE (N.D.), Steve DainesSteven (Steve) David DainesSusan Collins to back Haaland's Interior nomination OVERNIGHT ENERGY: House Democrats reintroduce road map to carbon neutrality by 2050 | Kerry presses oil companies to tackle climate change | Biden delays transfer of sacred lands for copper mine Indigenous groups post billboards urging senators to confirm Deb Haaland MORE (Mont.), Joni ErnstJoni Kay ErnstSenate inches toward COVID-19 vote after marathon session Republicans demand arms embargo on Iran after militia strikes in Iraq Republicans blast Pentagon policy nominee over tweets, Iran nuclear deal MORE (Iowa) and Martha McSallyMartha Elizabeth McSallyGOP targets Manchin, Sinema, Kelly on Becerra House Freedom Caucus chair weighs Arizona Senate bid New rule shakes up Senate Armed Services subcommittees MORE (Ariz.) signed the letter.

Johnson, who chairs the Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee, is planning to use his gavel and team up with Scott to probe the U.S. and international response to the coronavirus.

The senators are requesting the WHO hand over records by April 27 involving the organization's leadership and any communications related to the coronavirus, documents related to the coronavirus, data requested and received from the Chinese government about the coronavirus and any documents describing the WHO's coronavirus research.

The senators also want to know what "protocols and procedures" the WHO had in place for epidemics and pandemics before December and an outline of steps it took in accordance with those guidelines as a result of the coronavirus.

They also want to know when the health organization first became aware of a "SARS-like virus" within China, when it first sent personnel to China to start investigating the virus, who was responsible for coordinating with the Chinese government and if any members of WHO leadership receive outside compensation beyond the organization.

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The WHO has garnered criticism from Trump and GOP lawmakers over its response to the coronavirus. Republicans sent a letter to the WHO earlier this month over its relationship with China.

Sen. Chuck GrassleyChuck GrassleyWhite House open to reforming war powers amid bipartisan push Garland's AG nomination delayed by GOP roadblocks National Sheriffs' Association backs Biden pick for key DOJ role MORE (R-Iowa) also sent a letter to Tedros to the organization about the failure to contain the pandemic.

“Unfortunately, there is ample reason to question WHO’s response to early signs of this outbreak in China. The lack of independent analysis and advice in the face of initial misleading public messaging from China has resulted in several countries scrambling to make up for lost time,” Grassley wrote.