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In New Letter, Lowey and Democratic Appropriators Criticize Trump Administration’s Defunding of World Health Organization

House Appropriations Committee Chairwoman Nita M. Lowey (D-NY) and Democratic Members of the House State, Foreign Operations, and Related Programs Appropriations Subcommittee today wrote to President Donald Trump opposing his plan to defund the United States’ previously appropriated and committed contributions to the World Health Organization (WHO).

“Instead of reneging on good-faith commitments made by the United States, you should be embracing every avenue to combat the virus,” the lawmakers wrote. “Beyond isolating the United States, abdicating responsibility, and pandering to your political base instead of putting the needs of all Americans first, there are no benefits to this dangerous decision.”

The letter, signed by Chairwoman Lowey, Vice Chair Barbara Lee (D-CA), Rep. Grace Meng (D-NY), Rep. David E. Price (D-NC), Rep. Lois Frankel (D-FL), and Rep. Norma Torres (D-CA), notes the critical role the World Health Organization plays in both protecting Americans’ and advancing global health.

“Funding for the WHO not only covers pandemic response, but also supports essential global efforts to fight polio, approve new drugs and treatment regimens for global use, determine the components of annual flu vaccines, and encourage cooperation and openness from all countries regarding public health. The WHO hosts centers for research and collaboration that provide experts and U.S. government agencies visibility into global health threats, including biosecurity, and deadly diseases, including cancer,” the lawmakers wrote. “Terminating the United States’ relationship with the WHO will put Americans further at risk.”

The letter concludes by urging the President and his administration to reverse course.

“We urge you to reconsider this decision and will take all actions within our power to ensure that the United States continues to fulfill its decades-long commitment to global health in support of the well-being and security of all Americans,” the lawmakers wrote.

The full text of the letter is below. A PDF copy is available here.

Mr. President:

We are deeply troubled by your dangerous decision to defund the United States’ previously appropriated and committed contributions to the World Health Organization (WHO).

Funding for the WHO not only covers pandemic response, but also supports essential global efforts to fight polio, approve new drugs and treatment regimens for global use, determine the components of annual flu vaccines, and encourage cooperation and openness from all countries regarding public health. The WHO hosts centers for research and collaboration that provide experts and U.S. government agencies visibility into global health threats, including biosecurity, and deadly diseases, including cancer.

Terminating the United States’ relationship with the WHO will put Americans further at risk. A withdrawal not only lessens our ability to manage coronavirus, but has far-reaching effects on efforts to combat malaria, polio, tuberculosis, and measles, as well as support for HIV/AIDS relief around the world.

While no institution is perfect, the world and the United States need a strong WHO capable of fulfilling its mandate. By not participating, we make the reforms we seek more difficult to achieve and empower China and Russia, which will readily replace the United States’ leadership within the WHO. By stepping away from this institution, the United States hurts its own priorities and undermines the health of its citizens.

The coronavirus pandemic has claimed more than 185,000 American lives. As you mislead about a pending “miracle” in which this pandemic will end and urge citizens to sample unproven mitigation methods that could kill them, you are putting countless more are at risk. It is unconscionable that you claim to be “making America great” while dismantling the processes and institutions that help protect our country and the health and well-being of American citizens.

Mr. President, cutting off the United States’ relationship with the WHO inhibits the ability of America’s best and brightest experts to do their jobs, and further separates the United States from its allies and partners at a time in which global coordination is paramount.

Instead of reneging on good-faith commitments made by the United States, you should be embracing every avenue to combat the virus. Beyond isolating the United States, abdicating responsibility, and pandering to your political base instead of putting the needs of all Americans first, there are no benefits to this dangerous decision.

We urge you to reconsider this decision and will take all actions within our power to ensure that the United States continues to fulfill its decades-long commitment to global health in support of the well-being and security of all Americans. 

Sincerely,

/s/

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