Republicans introduce resolution to withhold money from WHO until director resigns (Update: Trump announces hold)

A group of Republicans in the House led by Rep. Guy Reschenthaler have introduced legislation to withhold funding the the World Health Organization until Dr. Tedros Ghebreyesus resigns.

Fox News points out the US has a lot of leverage in this situation:

Reschenthaler, along with more than 20 other House Republican co-sponsors, backed the resolution that says “the United States should withhold the contribution of Federal funds to the World Health Organization until Director-General Tedros Ghebreyesus resigns and an international commission to investigate the World Health Commission is established.”…

The United States is the single largest contributor to the WHO. The most recent invoice from the WHO to the United States, which is one of many countries that fund the organization, was for nearly $116 million per year. The United States also voluntarily gives between approximately $100 million and $400 million more per year to the WHO for specific projects – contributions that totaled over $400 million in 2017, the most recent year for which figures are available.

As I pointed out previously, there has been widespread criticism of Dr. Tedros for his repeated siding with China in the early days of the crisis. When China reported no evidence of human-to-human contact in mid-January, the WHO echoed that false claim. When China lobbied not to have the outbreak declared a global emergency, Tedros had the ability to declare one but did not. The declaration was made ten days later.

The WHO has also been embarrassingly deferential to China with regard to Taiwan which, because of longstanding pressure from China, is not a member of the WHO:

In a Skype interview, journalist Yvonne Tong of Hong Kong public broadcaster RTHK asked Dr. Bruce Aylward, a senior WHO official, if the global health body would reconsider Taiwan’s membership.

On Tong’s laptop screen, Aylward’s face twitched. He blinked for several seconds. Then he said he “couldn’t hear the question.” When Tong offered to repeat herself, Aylward cut in: “No, that’s OK, let’s move on to another question then.”

“I’m actually curious to talk about Taiwan as well,” said Tong. Aylward’s face disappeared—he had ended the call.

When Tong called back and repeated her question, Aylward replied, “Well, we’ve already talked about China. And when you look across all the different areas of China, they’ve actually all done quite a good job.” He thanked Tong and ended the call again.

I can already predict how this push is going to be greeted by Democrats. This will be deemed a distraction from the everything-is-Trump’s-fault push that is the media’s main preoccupation. That’s a helpful 2020 campaign theme for Democrats so there’s little chance they will do anything that might change that narrative and suggest some blame belongs elsewhere.

And yet, the mishandling of this by China in the early weeks, followed by the likelihood they issued misleading numbers to the rest of the world, is a major factor in how this played out. Under Dr. Tedros, the WHO has praised China effusively at every step. American taxpayers shouldn’t be happy about paying for that nonsense.

Update: Today President Trump announced plans to put a “very powerful hold” on money going to the WHO.

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