Trump Halts US Funding For World Health Organization As It Conducts Coronavirus Review

President Trump is following through with the threat he made last week by suspending funding to the World Health Organization while his administration reviews the agency’s response to the COVID-19 pandemic. Slashdot reader schwit1 first shared the news. CNBC reports: “Today I’m instructing my administration to halt funding of the World Health Organization while a review is conducted to assess the World Health Organization’s role in severely mismanaging and covering up the spread of the coronavirus,” Trump said at a White House press conference. Trump criticized the international agency’s response to the outbreak, saying “one of the most dangerous and costly decisions from the WHO was its disastrous decision to oppose travel restrictions from China and other nations” that Trump imposed early on in the outbreak. “Fortunately, I was not convinced and suspended travel from China saving untold numbers of lives,” he said.

It’s unclear exactly what mechanism Trump intends to use to withhold WHO funding, much of which is appropriated by Congress. The president typically does not have the authority to unilaterally redirect congressional funding. One option might be for Trump to use powers granted to the president under the Impoundment Control Act of 1974. Under this statute, the president may propose to withhold congressional funds, but it requires congressional approval within 45 days. Absent this approval, the funds must be returned to their original, congressionally mandated purpose after 45 days.

Trump also said Tuesday that he believes some state economies may be able to open for business by May 1st. “It’s going to be very very close. Maybe even before the date of May 1st,” he said.

Trump’s announcement came a day after governors from the country’s East and West coasts announced they would form their own regional pacts to work together on how to reopen from the stay-at-home orders each has issued to limit the spread of the virus.