The U.S. House of Representatives Committee on Appropriations is advocating for major changes to the nation’s funding programs in its budget proposal for fiscal year 2024.
The proposal is part of the committee’s efforts to reduce spending on low-priority activities and programs. The proposed bill also includes restrictions on funding for the Wuhan Institute of Virology, the EcoHealth Alliance, and gain-of-function research.
It calls for terminating U.S. government involvement with the World Economic Forum (WEF) and banning government misinformation and disinformation programs.
The bill’s passage through Congress is still uncertain, and it remains to be seen which proposed cuts will be implemented.
Representative Ralph Norman, a vocal critic of U.S. participation in the WHO, expressed support for the appropriations committee’s proposals but emphasized the need to follow through and ensure their approval.
In a letter to House Speaker Kevin McCarthy, Norman advocated for cutting the WHO’s funding, citing an annual contribution of approximately $700 million. He also urged the House Foreign Affairs Committee to address the U.S.’s involvement with the WHO. The bill’s introduction was positively received by medical and legal experts critical of the WHO’s proposed pandemic treaty and changes to the International Health Regulations (IHR).
Following subcommittee markup, the proposed bill will undergo full committee markup, and potential amendments may be introduced during the process. The bill will then be considered in the House and Senate, potentially resulting in votes, before it reaches the president for approval or veto.
As discussions surrounding the WHO’s pandemic treaty and IHR amendments took place, opposition from experts and activists grew. The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) organized listening sessions on these matters, where opposition to the WHO and concerns about sovereignty were expressed.
Political opposition to the WHO has been increasing, with multiple bills proposed in Congress suggesting the U.S. stop funding or withdraw from the organization. These bills include the WHO Withdrawal Act, No Taxpayer Funding for the World Health Organization Act, No WHO Pandemic Preparedness Treaty Without Senate Approval Act, and No WHO Pandemic Preparedness Treaty Without Senate Approval Act.
Representative Andy Biggs’ H.R.79 has garnered significant support. Congressional hearings regarding continued U.S. membership in the WHO and involvement in the pandemic treaty and IHR amendments are planned. Critics argue that defunding alone is insufficient and advocate for the repeal of the joint resolution that brought the U.S. into the WHO. They believe such actions, combined with funding cuts, will safeguard against the WHO’s perceived encroachment on U.S. national sovereignty.