President Donald Trump floated the idea of defunding the World Health Organization after its botched response to the coronavirus pandemic on the same day the international body marked its 72nd anniversary.
“We are going to put a hold on money spent to the WHO. We are going to put a very powerful hold on it and we’re going to see,” Trump said.
The president also called WHO “China-centric.” The organization unquestioningly repeated numerous Chinese propaganda points early in the process.
During the daily press briefing on Tuesday, Trump said WHO probably knew more than it was talking about.
“They missed the call. They could have called it months earlier. They would have known. They should have known,” Trump said. “They probably did know. So, we’ll be looking into that very carefully and we are going to put a hold on money spent to the WHO. We are going to put a very powerful hold on it and we’re going to see.”
Asked later about holding WHO funding, Trump said: “I’m not saying I’m going to do it, but we’re going to look at it. No, I didn’t. I said we are going to investigate it. We are going to look at it. We will look at ending funding.”
The United States contributes 14.7% of the World Health Organization’s $38 billion budget, while China contributes only 0.21%, according to WHO’s numbers.
According to WHO, contributions from the U.S. government, American citizens, and U.S.-based charities make up 76% of all voluntary contributions to the organization. That amounted to $945.6 million from 2016 to 2017.
Congress authorized about $123 million in taxpayer funding for WHO in the last fiscal year, and Trump’s fiscal 2021 budget request proposed to reduce funding to about $58 million.
Trump tweeted about the matter earlier on Tuesday.
April 7, 1948 is the day that WHO—an appendage of the United Nations—began.
WHO Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus delivered a message about World Health Day on Tuesday, but did not directly acknowledge Trump’s earlier tweet.
“On the 7th of April 1948, @WHO came into being. We mark this day every year as #WorldHealthDay,” the director-general tweeted. “Today & throughout 2020, we’re highlighting the vital role of nurses and midwives, as part of the International Year of the Nurse and the Midwife.”
Tedros said Jan. 30 that “China is actually setting a new standard for outbreak response.”
China backed Tedros in May 2017 when he ran for the top job at the World Health Organization.
Tedros also criticized the U.S. ban on travel from China.
“They actually criticized and disagreed with my travel ban at the time I did it. They were wrong,” Trump said during the Tuesday press briefing. “They’ve been wrong about a lot of things. They had a lot of information early. They seemed to be very China-centric. We have to look into that. So, we are going to look into it.”
On Jan. 14, WHO unquestioningly circulated China’s official talking points in a tweet, saying:
Preliminary investigations conducted by the Chinese authorities have found no clear evidence of human-to-human transmission of the novel #coronavirus (2019-nCoV) identified in #Wuhan, #China.
Sen. Rick Scott, R-Fla., told The Daily Signal last week he was pushing for the Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee to investigate WHO’s poor response.