President Donald Trump said Saturday morning that he is considering restoring some funding to the World Health Organization, after the White House froze U.S. contributions to the international agency last month despite widespread criticism from global leaders and Democrats in Congress who view the move as dangerous.
Trump wrote in a Twitter post the payments could be 10% of what the United States has historically paid to the international health agency, "matching much lower China payments." He said no final decision has been made yet and funds are currently still frozen.
The U.S. cut funding to the WHO in April after Trump said the organization made errors that "caused so much death" amid the Covid-19 pandemic. He said a review of the WHO's actions would be conducted and that "one of the most dangerous and costly decisions from the WHO" was its opposition to the travel restrictions he placed on China and other countries at the onset of the outbreak.
The WHO has asked other countries to fill in financing gaps left by the U.S.'s suspension of funds in order to help support its response to the pandemic.
"The United States of America has been a long-standing and generous friend to the WHO and we hope it will continue to be so," WHO Director-General Dr. Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said at a press conference after Trump froze funding. "We regret the decision of the President of the United States to order a hold in funding to the World Health Organization."
Trump's decision to withdraw funding to the WHO drew widespread criticism from global leaders. The United Nations' Secretary General António Guterres said that it was "not the time" to cut funding as the world faces a pandemic.
Germany's Foreign Minister Heiko Maas said in a Twitter post that "blaming does not help. The virus knows no borders" and that the WHO was already suffering from funding issues. The European Union's foreign policy chief Josep Borrell said he "deeply regretted" the U.S.'s decision to halt funding.
In the U.S., House Democrats said Trump's funding cut would inhibit the global response to the coronavirus. They also challenged the legality of the decision, arguing that Trump cannot take away money already appropriated by Congress under its constitutional authority. Congress set aside $122 million for the WHO in fiscal year 2020.
"This decision is dangerous, illegal and will be swiftly challenged," House Speaker Nancy Pelosi said in a statement regarding Trump's decision to freeze funding.