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Dangerous Action in the Midst of Pandemic

Updated: Jul 8, 2020

Donald Trump's plan to withdraw from the World Health Organization, formalized today in the midst of the coronavirus pandemic, is yet another reason why this president must be defeated on November 3.

(Listen to the blog)

The administration yesterday sent a formal notice of withdrawal, effective July 6, 2021, to United Nations Secretary General Antonio Guterres, providing a year's notice as required by a joint resolution passed by Congress in 1948.

That means that Trump's action can quickly be undone by his successor, and presumed Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden said today that's exactly what he would do to "restore our leadership on the world stage."

In a tweet, he said, "Americans are safer when America is engaged in strengthening global health."

"To call Trump's response to COVID chaotic & incoherent doesn't do it justice," said Sen. Robert Menendez (D-NJ), the top Democrat on the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, and the senator who presumably would chair that prestigious panel if Democrats take control of the Senate in November. "This won't protect American lives or interests--it leaves Americans sick & America alone."

But echoing Trump's reasoning, Rep. James Comer, the ranking Republican on the House Oversight Committee, said Trump was right to withdraw from WHO.

"Until the WHO undergoes some serious reforms, it doesn't deserve our money or our membership." said Comer.

Listen to the Experts

But Congress was urged today by more than 750 scholars and experts on global public health and law to fight Trump's plan, saying that "cutting funding to the WHO during a global pandemic would be a dangerous action for global health and U.S. national interests."

"Congress has the power to prevent this decision from going forward, and must not be silent and must not wait," said the letter, which was sent to the leaders of the Senate and House Foreign Relations and Foreign Affairs committees.

Signing the letter were former directors of the Centers for Disease Control, the executive director of the American Public Health Association, the president of the National Academy of Medicine, and university presidents and deans. They warned that Trump's action "will likely cost lives, American and foreign."

By withdrawing from WHO, Trump seeks to end U.S. payments to the organization, accounting for about 15 percent of the budget. Much of the money is used to fight polio, vaccine-preventable diseases, malaria, tuberculosis, HIV/AIDS, plus providing for basic health care.

The experts say the U.S would be hurting itself by not being able to participate in discussions about the coronavirus response, vaccine development, or other threats on the horizon.

Of course, with Trump in the White House, who needs help from other countries that are successfully combatting the pandemic? After all, he's done a fantastic job of leading us through this catastrophe, which as of today has cost 133,00 lives from just over 3 million cases nationwide.

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