WASHINGTON, D.C. – Today, United States Senators Cory Booker (D-NJ) and Dick Durbin (D-IL) introduced a bill to ensure the United States fulfills its commitments to the World Health Organization. Under the Abiding by U.S. Commitments Act, the United States will continue payments of its dues to the WHO and the other international organizations of which it is a member.

In addition to Booker and Durbin, the bill is cosponsored by Senators Leahy (D-VT), Van Hollen (D-MD), Cantwell (D-WA), Gillibrand (D-NY), Hirono (D-HI), Merkley (D-OR), Reed (D-RI), and Feinstein (D-CA).

Earlier this year, the White House announced it would begin the process of terminating the United States’ relationship with the World Health Organization, isolating the United States in the midst of a global pandemic and endangering access to up to date information about COVID-19 and other diseases. Last week, the Trump Administration announced it would not join 172 countries in an effort to secure a safe vaccine simply because the World Health Organization was involved. These reckless actions severely undermine the global efforts to secure a vaccine and the U.S’s historic leadership in global health diplomacy. The Trump Administration continues to risk millions of American lives simply to divert attention from its own failures to contain the COVID-19 pandemic.

According to recent reports, COVID-19 has killed U.S. citizens at six times the global average rate and has recorded eight times the number of infections of other high-income countries.

“COVID-19 is a global pandemic that requires a coordinated global response, but because of the Trump Administration, the United States has not only lost more of our citizens to this virus than our global peers but is almost entirely absent from international efforts to contain and stop the spread of this virus,” said Sen. Booker. “Congress needs to act urgently to ensure that the U.S. keeps its commitments to our international partners like the WHO so a coordinated global response to COVID-19 saves lives both here at home and abroad.”

“With the United States leading in the number of COVID-19 infections, we do not have time to play along with the President’s political stunt to withdraw from vital international organizations like the World Health Organization, which is leading a global effort to find and distribute a vaccine for a disease responsible for the death of more than 190,000 Americans,” said Sen. Durbin. “With this legislation, we are taking steps to reaffirm our commitment to our global allies in fighting this virus. After all, while I hope a vaccine is developed here, we don’t want the American people left out if one is developed abroad.”

Booker and Durbin’s, Abiding by U.S. Commitments Act of 2020:

  • Expresses a sense of Congress that the U.S. should participate in global efforts to develop a vaccine for COVID-19, including the COVAX facility.
  • Requires the Secretary of State to pay 2020 assessed dues to the International Organizations to which the U.S. belongs.
  • Requires that $118.9M (the United States’ annual assessed and treaty-obligated dues) be made available to the WHO.

Today’s bill comes after Booker led a letter with 33 of his Senate colleagues in July urging the President to reverse his decision to withdraw from the World Health Organization.

Full text of the bill is available here.