U.S. Senator Cory Booker (D-NJ) today led 33 of his Senate colleagues in urging President Trump to reverse his decision to withdraw from the World Health Organization (WHO). The Senators warned that an American withdrawal from WHO will upend efforts to implement a collective international response to the COVID-19 pandemic, inevitably put American lives and economic interests at risk, and undermines American leadership within the international community, while empowering China.
“As it is now grimly clear, diseases do not respect borders. This is a crisis of global proportions, one that has painfully exposed the vulnerabilities and deficiencies of even the strongest economies and most competently governed societies,” the senators wrote in their letter to President Donald Trump. “This means in part continuing to collaborate and support the World Health Organization (WHO), which is coordinating the global response to COVID-19. Currently, for example, the WHO is using its convening power to undertake an unprecedented effort to identify effective treatments and vaccines. The organization’s “Solidarity Trial,” which includes more than 100 countries, enables research on potential therapeutics to be collected much faster and more efficiently than individual country efforts, dramatically reducing the amount of time to determine effectiveness.”
“As it stands, a decision to end our engagement and funding of the WHO may be interpreted as abandoning vulnerable countries in their hour of need, further weakening their ability to identify and stop diseases at their source, before they become difficult and costly to contain. It also plays into the hands of countries, like China, who would seek to distract from their role in the outbreak and could be used to portray the United States as uninterested in helping other countries deal with COVID-19. In short, withdrawing from the WHO makes our country less safe and empowers China within the organization,” the senators continued.
“The fact remains that we are currently in the midst of a global health emergency that is unprecedented in our lifetimes; now is not the time to take our eyes off the ball and engage in attacks on the one global institution that is working day-in and day-out to counter the threat posed by this disease. We therefore urge you to reverse this short-sighted and dangerous decision, and to commit to reengagement with the WHO – and Congress - on collective efforts to address the COVID-19 pandemic,” the senators concluded.
This letter was also signed by Senators Gillibrand (D-NY), Van Hollen (D-MD), Durbin (D-IL), Coons (D-DE), Brown (D-OH), Jones (D-AL), Markey (D-MA), King (D-ME), Warren (D-MA), Wyden (D-OR), Warner (D-VA), Merkley (D-OR), Hirono (D-HI), Blumenthal (D-CT), Reed (D-RI), Carper (D-DE), Casey (D-PA),Bernard Sanders (D-VT), Cortez Masto (D-NV), Cantwell (D-WA), Bennet (D-CO), Heinrich (D-NM), Baldwin (D-WI), Tom Udall (D-NM), Klobuchar (D-MN), Tina Smith (D-MN), Murphy (D-CT), Schatz (D-HI), Shaheen (D-NH), Whitehouse (D-RI), Rosen (D-NV), Cardin (D-MD), Hassan (D-NH).
Full text of the letter is available here.