President Donald Trump suggested he may “hold” funding for the World Health Organization, which some on the U.S. political right have sought to blame for the coronavirus outbreak.
“We’re going to have an announcement on the World Health Organization some time next week,” Trump said at a press conference on Friday. “As you know we give them approximately $500 million a year and we’re going to be talking about that subject next week. We’ll have a lot to say about it. We’ll hold it.”
Trump subsequently said he did not want to make an announcement on Good Friday or before Easter, again hinting that he would seek to reduce the U.S. contribution to the health agency.
“I also didn’t want to do it before we have all the facts,” Trump said. “But over the years, many years, we’ve been paying them from $300 to $500 – and even more – million dollars a year.”
As Trump endures scrutiny of his government’s response to the U.S. outbreak, some of his political allies have alleged the WHO was too trusting of Chinese assertions about the disease after it first appeared last year. Senator Lindsey Graham, a South Carolina Republican, has said he would block further U.S. funding for the international health group until it changes its leadership, calling the agency “deceptive” and “Chinese apologists” in a Fox News interview on Tuesday.
Trump echoed some of that criticism Friday, saying the organization has been “very China-centric” and that he did not believe it was “fair to the American people.”
He also complained that Chinese contributions to the agency lagged far behind American spending.
The U.S. has contributed about $893 million to the WHO’s operations in its current two-year funding cycle, according to the organization. China’s government has contributed about $86 million over the same period.
“We’re looking at it very, very closely,” Trump said. “We want to make sure money is properly spent.”
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