Policy Update

Trump freezes funding to WHO; Democrats vow to challenge decision

US President Trump announced a freeze on funding to the World Health Organization (WHO), stating that his administration would undertake a review of the organization's handling of COVID-19, especially as it relates to China. Speaker of the US House of Representatives, Nancy Pelosi, swiftly condemned the action, calling it "senseless, dangerous, and illegal" and vowed that it will be "swiftly challenged".

Details of Trump's review of the WHO are still scarce, but it will likely be a 60-day review by the State Department and its purview may include more than just those resources for the COVID-19 response.

The US is the largest funder of the WHO, providing US$893 million in both regular assessments and voluntary contributions for the two-year budget cycle. House Democrats are currently assessing their options to challenge the freeze, which could include both a legal challenge and the addition of new provisions in future funding bills, although neither solution would deliver rapid results in overturning the funding suspension. It is unlikely that the WHO could find sufficient funding to cover such a large contribution, should the freeze become permanent.

News article - Devex