High Stakes for Our Country: 49 Senators Call on Biden to Reject the WHO

High Stakes for Our Country: 49 Senators Call on Biden to Reject the WHO  amendment

Forty-nine Republican senators on Wednesday signed a letter to President Joe Biden, calling on him to withdraw his administration’s support for two international agreements being considered at this month’s World Health Assembly meeting.

World Health Organization (WHO) member states will convene in Geneva beginning May 27 to vote on two proposals — the so-called “Pandemic Agreement” or “pandemic treaty,” and Amendments to the International Health Regulations (IHR).

The Biden administration supports the two WHO proposals, which would grant global health officials wide authority over pandemic management.

The senators, who make up the entire Senate Republican Conference, said before considering the amendments the administration should focus on developing a comprehensive set of reforms for the WHO, given how it failed totally and predictably during the COVID-19 pandemic “and did lasting harm to our country.”

Before any treaty is signed or IHR amendments passed, which they warn will substantially increase WHO authority, shred intellectual property rights and infringe on freedom of speech, they wrote, these failures must be addressed.

The letter also noted that Article 55 of the IHR requires the text of any proposed amendment to be communicated to member states four months before the World Health Assembly where they will be considered.

However, the meeting is only a few weeks away and the final text is not yet available for WHO member states to review.

This is particularly concerning, they wrote, given that “Some of the over 300 proposals for amendments made by member states would substantially increase the WHO’s health emergency powers and constitute intolerable infringements upon U.S. sovereignty.”

As a result, they wrote, “Amendments are not in order.”

The senators, led by Ron Johnson (R-Wis.), warned Biden that if he were to join the pandemic treaty or amendments, they would consider it a treaty requiring the concurrence of two-thirds of the U.S. Senate, according to the U.S. Constitution.

The letter concludes:

“In light of the high stakes for our country and our constitutional duty, we call upon you to (1) withdraw your administration’s support for the current IHR amendments and pandemic treaty negotiations, (2) shift your administration’s focus to comprehensive WHO reforms that address its persistent failures without expanding its authority, and (3) should you ignore these calls, submit any pandemic related agreement to the Senate for its advice and consent.”

Resistance to the WHO proposals is also growing at the state level. Two states have passed laws — and two states have bills pending — intended to prevent the WHO from overriding states’ authority on matters of public health policy.

Utah and Florida passed laws and Louisiana and Oklahoma have legislation set to take effect soon pending final votes. Several other states are considering similar bills.

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