The United States officially withdrew from the World Health Organization (WHO) amid lingering doubts about how the United Nations body handled the emergence of the CCP (Chinese Communist Party) virus, lawmakers said on Tuesday.
Congress received notice that President Donald Trump officially removed America from the WHO, Sen. Bob Menendez (D-N.J.) said.
The WHO didn’t immediately respond to a request for comment.
WHO’s director general, Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, told reporters in May that he hoped the United States wouldn’t cut ties with the group.
He called America “a longstanding and generous friend to WHO,” adding, “We hope it will continue to be so.”
The United States was the group’s largest funder, regularly pouring hundreds of millions of dollars on an annual basis into the organization.
Trump, a Republican who is up for re-election in November, announced earlier this year that the United States would formally terminate its relationship with WHO.
“We have detailed the reforms that it must take and have engaged with them directly but they have refused to act,” Trump said.
“Because they have failed to make the requested and greatly needed reforms, we will be today terminating our relationship with the World Health Organization and redirecting those funds to other worldwide and deserving, urgent global health needs.”
An administration official said other groups that could receive the funding include the Red Cross and Doctors Without Borders.
Trump said last month that he wasn’t reconsidering his decision, calling the WHO “a disaster.”
The formal withdrawal came after the WHO admitted CCP officials did not report the emergence of the new virus from China to officials at the organization.
Democrats and some Republicans opposed the plan to withdraw from the WHO.
Senate Health Chairman Lamar Alexander (R-Tenn.) said after Trump’s announcement: “I disagree with the president’s decision. Certainly there needs to be a good, hard look at mistakes the World Health Organization might have made in connection with coronavirus, but the time to do that is after the crisis has been dealt with, not in the middle of it.”
Withdrawal could interfere with clinical trials for CCP virus vaccines, he said.
The House Foreign Affairs Committee concluded in a report released in June that the WHO “enabled the CCP cover-up by failing to investigate and publicize reports conflicting with the official CCP, while at the same time praising the CCP’s response.”
But Rep. Michael McCaul (R-Texas), the committee’s ranking member, also argued against withdrawal. The United States can “affect more change within the organization as a member,” he said.