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Trump administration begins formal withdrawal from World Health Organization

(CNN) The Trump administration has notified Congress and the United Nations that the United States is formally withdrawing from the World Health Organization, multiple officials tell CNN, a move that comes amid a rising number of coronavirus cases throughout the Americas in the last week alone.

Sen. Robert Menendez, the top Democrat on the Senate Foreign Relations Committee tweeted the news Tuesday.

“Congress received notification that POTUS officially withdrew the U.S. from the ⁦‪@WHO⁩in the midst of a pandemic. To call Trump’s response to COVID chaotic & incoherent doesn’t do it justice. This won’t protect American lives or interests—it leaves Americans sick & America alone,” he wrote.

A State Department official also confirmed that “the United States’ notice of withdrawal, effective July 6, 2021, has been submitted to the UN Secretary-General, who is the depository for the WHO.”

The letter addressed to the UN is very short, around three sentences, a source briefed on the correspondence told CNN, and it will trigger a one-year withdrawal timeline. However, this source also cautioned that they cannot confirm they saw the final version of the letter.

While lawmakers from both parties have long cited systemic problems with the WHO, many have also denounced the President’s decision to withdraw during a once-in-a-century global pandemic.

Despite alleging that the World Health Organization “enabled” the Chinese government’s sweeping cover-up of the coronavirus pandemic’s origins, members of the GOP China task force urged President Donald Trump last month to reconsider his decision to terminate relations with the international body, arguing that the US can do more to affect change as a member.

President Donald Trump said he was halting funding to the organization in mid-April and announced his intention to withdraw from the WHO in May after he said it “failed to make the requested and greatly needed reforms.” Trump had denounced the US’ contribution to the WHO — $400-500 million — in comparison to China’s and consistently accused the organization of aiding China in allegedly covering up the origins of the virus and allowing its spread.


While lawmakers from both parties have long cited systemic problems with the WHO, many have also denounced the President’s decision to withdraw during a once-in-a-century global pandemic.


Democratic House Speaker Nancy Pelosi called it “is an act of true senselessness.” Republican Sen. Lamar Alexander, chairman of the Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee, said he disagreed with Trump’s decision.
“If the administration has specific recommendations for reforms of the WHO, it should submit those recommendations to Congress, and we can work together to make those happen,” he said.


Last month, despite alleging that the World Health Organization “enabled” the Chinese government’s sweeping cover-up of the coronavirus pandemic’s origins, members of the GOP China task force urged Trump to reconsider his decision to terminate relations with the international body, arguing that the US can do more to affect change as a member.
Cousens, the head of the UN Foundation, called the decision “short-sighted, unnecessary, and unequivocally dangerous” and said that the US’ “ability to lead and shape an agenda for reform is drastically diminished when they step out of the field of play.”
“There’s no question but that working within an institution like the World Health Organization allows the United States and others to leverage their resources to have much greater impact,” she told CNN.
She pointed to the WHO’s work in “distributing millions of pieces of personal protective equipment to medical facilities around the world, millions of diagnostic tests, tracking the virus’ spread across borders, coordinating global efforts to develop a vaccine, … coordinating research among over 100 countries … along with all of the work that they do in low resource and more humanitarian settings.”

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