- The Washington Times - Monday, June 15, 2020

A top House Republican is leading GOP efforts to urge the White House to remain a member state of the World Health Organization, arguing that despite the flaws of the United Nations-backed agency, it would be less beneficial for the U.S. to abandon the group altogether.

Last month, President Trump threatened to withdraw from the WHO and permanently cut off all funding to the group after lodging a series of complaints that the agency mishandled the response to the coronavirus pandemic.

Calls have been mounting for a thorough probe into the U.N. health organization’s decision-making throughout the crisis and whether it applied enough pressure on China in the early days of the outbreak to provide information and to warn other countries of the dangers to come.

WHO member nations unanimously approved a resolution last month to launch an independent inquiry into the U.N.-backed agency’s handling of the virus that has infected nearly 8 million worldwide and killed more than 434,000.

The U.S. has reported over 2.1 million confirmed cases of COVID-19, the highest number of confirmed cases in the world, 115,827 deaths, and 561,816 recoveries, according to the Johns Hopkins University tracker. The U.S. population currently stands at 328.2 million.

The recommendation to remain a member of the WHO came as part of a new report released Monday by Republicans on the House Foreign Affairs Committee that details the preliminary findings of a months-long probe into the origins of the coronavirus outbreak and China’s attempt to “conceal the spread and novel nature of the virus.”

The 50-page report, authored by committee Ranking Member Rep. Michael McCaul, Texas Republican, declared that “the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) bears overwhelming responsibility for allowing a local outbreak to become a global pandemic.”

“Senior CCP leaders … knew a pandemic was occurring weeks before they warned the public,” the report found. The lawmakers allege the WHO “enabled the CCP cover-up by failing to investigate and publicize reports conflicting with the official CCP, while at the same time praising the CCP’s response. In sum, the COVID-19 global pandemic could have been prevented if the CCP acted in a transparent and responsible manner.”

Despite the latest findings, the group maintained that they “do not believe the withdrawal of the United States or the establishment of a competing international organization is the correct path forward.”

“Instead, we believe the results of this investigation should inform our final recommendation — reform of the International Health Regulations and the WHO.”

Mr. McCaul also recommended that WHO Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus should take responsibility for his role in managing the pandemic “in order to restore the faith of WHO Member States and return the WHO to its mandate of providing accurate, technical advice.”

The report calls for an international investigation into the organization’s handling of the COVID-19 outbreak and for Mr. Tedros to resign.

It is not yet clear if the GOP-led report will impact Mr. Trump’s decision to pull out of the 197-member group. But as of Monday, Mr. Tedros confirmed the U.S. remains a member of the WHO.

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