Apr 14, 2020 - Politics & Policy

Scoop: Lawmakers demand answers from WHO

Chinese President Xi Jinping meets with World Health Organization Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus in Beijing on Jan. 28, 2020.
Chinese President Xi Jinping meets with World Health Organization director-general Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus in Beijing on Jan. 28, 2020. Photo: Ju Peng/Xinhua via Getty

A group of U.S. senators have sent a letter to the World Health Organization asking it to provide an accounting of its early handling of the coronavirus outbreak in China.

Why it matters: Rising scrutiny of the WHO has led to GOP calls to cut U.S. funding for the organization.

What they're saying: "American taxpayers fund the WHO, and it is up to us to make sure those taxpayer dollars are being spent wisely," Sen. Rick Scott and six other GOP senators wrote in the April 14 letter addressed to WHO director-general Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus.

Background: The WHO has come under heavy international criticism for failing to contain the coronavirus, and for appearing to follow Beijing's lead in its response and communications.

Details: The lawmakers made several requests for information, including:

  • When a WHO team first arrived in China to begin investigating the outbreak
  • Who was in charge of coordinating the WHO's investigation with the Chinese Communist Party
  • Any financial compensation the organization's leaders receive beyond their WHO salaries
  • Disclosure of documents and communications in late 2019 and early 2020 relating to the coronavirus response in China, especially those between the WHO and China's leadership
  • Republican Senators Kevin Cramer, Todd Young, Ron Johnson, Steve Daines, Joni Ernst and Martha McSally also signed the letter.

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