Texas Congressman Michael McCaul, Republican member of the House Foreign Affairs Committee, joins ‘America’s Newsroom.’
Get all the latest news on coronavirus and more delivered daily to your inbox. Sign up here.
If the World Health Organization wants to continue receiving funding from the U.S., it should replace its current director-general, a group of Republican lawmakers said Thursday.
The plan, mapped out in a letter to President Trump from GOP members of the House Foreign Affairs Committee, was the latest salvo fired at embattled WHO boss Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, who is facing increasing scrutiny of his actions amid the coronavirus pandemic.
In recent weeks critics have accused Tedros of looking the other way as China allegedly silenced whistleblowers and lowballed data relating to the initial outbreak of the virus in the city of Wuhan months ago – a situation that grew into today’s pandemic, which has sickened more than 2.1 million people and killed more than 145,000 across the globe.
The pandemic could have been better contained had the WHO made sure China was providing accurate data from the onset, the GOP lawmakers alleged. But that didn’t happen, they added.
“This resulted in countries around the world, including ours, fighting the virus with incomplete information and valuable time wasted,” the lawmakers wrote to Trump, according to The Hill. “Sadly, as a result, we will have to count the lives lost in China and around the world for far too long.”
“We will have to count the lives lost in China and around the world for far too long.”
The letter was signed by Foreign Affairs Committee ranking member Mike McCaul, R-Texas, and 16 other Republican members of the panel, according to The Hill.
The lawmakers also charged that Tedros has a “troubled record of response to health emergencies” and a “record of embracing PRC [Chinese] propaganda and policies,” hurting his credibility.
“As such, we have lost faith in Director-General Tedros’ ability to lead the World Health Organization,” the lawmakers wrote to Trump, adding, “In light of the information presented in this letter, we recommend that you condition any future Fiscal Year 2020 voluntary contributions to the WHO on the resignation of Director-General Tedros.”
“We have lost faith in Director-General Tedros’ ability to lead the World Health Organization.”
During an appearance Thursday on Fox News’ “America’s Newsroom,” McCaul referred to China’s handling of the Wuhan outbreak as the “worst coverup in human history.”
The letter to Trump came two days after the president announced plans for the U.S. to halt funding to the WHO. The president said the U.S. contributes $400 million to $500 million annually to the United Nations-backed organization, a far greater contribution than any other nation.
Republicans in Congress have largely supported the president’s announcement but House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and other Democrats have spoken out against the move.
“This decision is dangerous, illegal and will be swiftly challenged,” Pelosi said in a statement, according to The Hill.
Former U.S. Secretary of State Madeleine Albright, during an appearance Tuesday on Fox News’ “The Daily Briefing,” also expressed reservations about pulling funding, saying it would end U.S. leverage with the WHO.
“If you are not at the table,” she said, “you are not able to get the kind of reforms that you need.”
Speaking to reporters Wednesday in Geneva, Tedros said he expected to face a public inquiry regarding his handling of the coronavirus crisis as the WHO’s member states seek “to ensure transparency and accountability.” He said that inquiry would likely take place after the crisis has ended.
“No doubt areas of improvement will be identified,” he added, “and there will be lessons for all of us to learn. But for now my focus is on stopping this virus.”
Fox News’ Julia Musto and Charles Creitz contributed to this story.