Democrats rushed to defend the World Health Organization (WHO) after President Donald Trump announced Wednesday he would halt funding to the organization pending a review of how it has handled the coronavirus pandemic.
After the World Health Organization learned of the coronavirus outbreak on December 31, it promoted Chinese assertions that there was no evidence of human-to-human transmission on January 14. It was not until January 20 that it acknowledged evidence of human-to-human transmission — after more than 3,000 had already become infected, according to the Associated Press.
WHO also criticized Trump’s decision to shut down travel from China to the United States and criticized his use of the term “Chinese virus.”
WHO has also praised China for its transparency — despite reports that Chinese authorities ordered the destroying of evidence of the virus and censored medical researchers who tried to sound an alarm about the virus.
The WHO has also had a history of excluding Taiwan from its activities since 2016 under pressure from China, who considers Taiwan a breakaway province that is part of its territory and not a separate country.
Nonetheless, Democrats rushed to defend the organization after the president’s decision to withhold the nearly $500 million in annual funding from the U.S.
Hillary Clinton tweeted:
“WHO is on the front lines of this pandemic, providing advice, training, and equipment crucial to saving lives—including Americans’. Cutting their funding is not only dangerous—Trump doesn’t have the authority to do it. He should know: violating spending laws got him impeached.”
Sen. Chris Murphy (D-CT) also defended WHO. He tweeted: “It wasn’t the WHO that put us in the position we are today. It was our own President.”
Sen. Ben Cardin (D-MD) accused the president of “deflecting blame.”
“Cutting off funding to the World Health Organization in the middle of a global pandemic is irresponsible, irrational and simply the wrong thing to do,” he said.
“If we refuse to work with the WHO – the lead enforcer of the International Health Regulations – we will have limited mechanisms to help stop this pandemic once and for all.”
Trump has not said he would refuse to work with WHO. During a press conference on Wednesday, he indicated he would be open to resuming funding if the WHO made changes.
“We’re going to make a determination over a little period of time. But they’re going to either have to make massive changes — I don’t even know if they’re going to be able to do that — or we’re going to give money to people,” he said.