In a statement, Pelosi, D-Calif., said the halt in funding amid the global pandemic “is senseless.”
“This is another case, as I have said, of the president’s ineffective response, that ‘a weak person, a poor leader, takes no responsibility. A weak person blames others,’” Pelosi said Wednesday.
“This decision is dangerous, illegal and will be swiftly challenged,” Pelosi said.
“We can only be successful in defeating this global pandemic through a coordinated international response with respect for science and data,” she continued. “But sadly, as he has since Day One, the president is ignoring global health experts, disregarding science and undermining the heroes fighting on the frontline, at great risk to the lives and livelihoods of Americans and people around the world.”
Pelosi’s comments come after the president announced Tuesday that the United States would immediately halt funding for the health organization, saying it had put “political correctness over lifesaving measures,” noting that the U.S. would undertake a 60-to-90 day investigation into why the “China-centric” WHO had caused “so much death” by “severely mismanaging and covering up” the coronavirus spread.
The United States is the WHO’s largest single donor, and the State Department had previously planned to provide the agency $893 million in the current two-year funding period. Trump said the United States contributes roughly $400 million to $500 million per year to WHO, while China offers only about $40 million. The money saved will go to areas that “most need it,” Trump asserted.
“We have deep concerns over whether America’s generosity has been put to the best use possible,” Trump said Tuesday, accusing the WHO of failing to adequately keep the international community apprised of the threat of the coronavirus.
“The WHO failed in this duty, and must be held accountable,” Trump said Tuesday. He added that the WHO had ignored “credible information” in December 2019 that the virus could be transmitted from human to human.
The move prompted widespread criticism from Democrats on Capitol Hill and international bodies like the European Union.
The European Union early Wednesday said Trump had “no reason” to freeze funding to WHO, especially at this critical stage of the COVID-19 pandemic, and urged measures to instead promote unity.
EU foreign policy chief Josep Borrell said the 27-nation bloc “deeply” regrets the suspension of funds and added that the U.N. health agency is now “needed more than ever” to combat the pandemic.
Borrell added that “only by joining forces can we overcome this crisis that knows no borders.”
Meanwhile, WHO Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, who has faced calls to resign from his post amid the controversy, issued a statement slamming the president’s move.
“We regret the decision by president of U.S. to order hold on funding to WHO…any withdrawal of U.S. funding…we will work with our partners to fill any financial gaps we face and make sure work continues uninterrupted.”
He added: “But for now our focus is on stopping this virus.”
As of Wednesday, the number of positive COVID-19 cases surpassed 2 million.
The U.S. reported more than 610,000 cases with more than 26,000 deaths.
Author: Brooke Singman