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https://safirsoft.com Trump “officially” takes US out of WHO, but withdrawal is a year-long process

Trump's power to take US out of WHO limited by 1948 congressional resolution.

The Trump administration has officially withdrawn the United States from the World Health Organization, according to a Democratic senator and multiple news reports. But the withdrawal process will take a year, so Trump may not be able to see it through.

"Congress received notification that POTUS officially withdrew the US from the WHO in the midst of a pandemic," Sen. Bob Menendez (D-N.J.) wrote on Twitter today. "To call Trump's response to COVID chaotic and incoherent doesn't do it justice. This won't protect American lives or interests—it leaves Americans sick and America alone."Further ReadingTrump halts US funding to WHO, says none of this is his fault

According to The Hill, a senior Trump administration official confirmed today that "the White House has officially moved to withdraw the United States from the World Health Organization."

"The US has submitted its withdrawal notification to the United Nations secretary-general, the official said," according to The Hill article. "Withdrawal requires a year's notice, so it will not go into effect until July 6, 2021, raising the possibility the decision could be reversed." That would be six months after the next presidential inauguration.

"The notice to the UN was the first step in a yearlong process that will rely on several factors outside of Trump's control, including cooperation from Congress and Trump's own reelection in November, neither of which are assured," CNBC wrote. The Washington Post also confirmed that the Trump administration sent a letter to the United Nations withdrawing the US from the WHO "over its handling of the coronavirus pandemic."

1948 joint resolution requires year-long process

The question of whether Trump can unilaterally take the United States out of the WHO is addressed in a recent Congressional Research Service report. It says that the 1948 joint resolution by Congress authorizing the president to accept membership in the WHO puts limits on Trump's authority here:

This resolution reserved the right of the "United States" to withdraw from the organization after a one-year notice, and specified that US financial obligations to the organization must be met in full for the organization's "current fiscal year" before withdrawal could become effective. The resolution does not specify whether the "United States" includes the President as Head of State acting alone to effect withdrawal or the President and Congress acting jointly to accomplish withdrawal (e.g., by joint resolution). However, even if the 1948 joint resolution contemplates the President acting alone, the joint resolution appears to impose two conditions on the President's withdrawal from the organization: (1) that the President provide a one-year notice; and (2) that the United States meet its financial obligations to the organization in full for the organization's current fiscal year before withdrawing.

Because of this, "it appears that the joint resolution would only prohibit the President from withdrawing immediately. The President could, consistent with the joint resolution, submit a notice of intent to withdraw, but it would not take effect for at least twelve months." A court may ultimately have to rule on the matter, the report said.

The WHO apparently lacks authority to mandate payment, but it "may suspend US voting rights if, during the twelve-month notice period, it finds the United States to be in arrears," the report said. Congress can also "consider imposing additional conditions on withdrawal," the report said.

Trump had been threatening to take the US out of the WHO for months. In April, he halted US funding to the United Nations health agency, then announced in May that the US government is "terminating our relationship" with the WHO.

"China has total control over the World Health Organization despite only paying $40 million per year, compared to what the United States has been paying, which is approximately $450 million a year," Trump said at the time, while blaming the WHO for not being tough enough on China during the COVID-19 pandemic. Trump hadn't followed through on the plan to withdraw from the WHO as of mid-June, but he has now taken action—albeit an action that could be reversed, particularly if he loses his bid for reelection.

Trump “officially” takes US out of WHO, but withdrawal is a year-long process
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