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WASHINGTON, D.C. May 29, 2020 – Oregon’s U.S. Senator Jeff Merkley, the top Democrat on the Senate Foreign Relations Committee’s subcommittee overseeing multilateral institutions, released the following statement after President Trump announced this afternoon that he would cut off U.S. funding for and withdraw the United States from the World Health Organization (WHO).

In January, Merkley led a bipartisan push for the WHO to declare the coronavirus outbreak a public health emergency of international concern, which the WHO did the day after Merkley’s call for action.

“Let’s be crystal clear: Cutting the United States out of the World Health Organization in the middle of the worst global pandemic in a century makes Americans more vulnerable. By abandoning the efforts to control the virus abroad, we’re ensuring that far more Americans will get sick, either through foreign travelers coming to the U.S., or through Americans traveling abroad. This is a lose-lose situation.

“In addition, the president is strengthening Chinese leadership and power, both within the WHO and more broadly within the international community. This is a huge mistake that damages American interests.
“As President Trump does another press conference blaming someone else, yet again, he’s very conspicuously not announcing a strategy to make sure frontline workers have the protective equipment they need, or a national plan for testing. Instead of trying to improve Americans’ lives, he is doubling down on his own failures in this pandemic and undermining America’s ability to shape the global response to this and future crises—all in a futile effort to point the blame at other people. The president’s vast leadership failures are endangering our nation.”