Rep. Tim Ryan: Halting WHO funding 'one of the most irresponsible decisions in the history of the presidency'
Rep. Tim Ryan (D-OH) slammed President Trump for halting funding for the World Health Organization — calling the decision the “height of irresponsibility” in an interview with Yahoo Finance.
“This is one of the most irresponsible decisions in the history of the presidency — in the middle of a global pandemic to defund the World Health Organization,” Ryan said in an interview with Yahoo Finance.
On Tuesday, Trump announced he was cutting off U.S. funding for the WHO pending a review of the organization’s handling of the coronavirus pandemic. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) called the move “dangerous and illegal” — while noting it would be “swiftly challenged.”
In a statement on Wednesday, the White House said the WHO’s response “has been filled with one misstep and cover-up after another” and the organization has “longstanding structural issues that must be addressed before the organization can be trusted again.”
‘Negligent to the nth degree’
Ryan and other Democratic lawmakers have suggested Trump is trying to deflect blame from his administration.
“He put us in this position and then he wants to blame the World Health Organization, blame Andrew Cuomo,” said Ryan. “I played a lot of sports growing up. No coach worth their salt would ever try to blame somebody else. You get better, you improve, you take responsibility as a leader and that's your job — and he is negligent to the nth degree.”
Ryan, a former 2020 presidential candidate, told Yahoo Finance the Trump administration’s response to the pandemic will hurt the president at the polls in November.
“In the conversations I'm having here in Ohio, everyone is seeing the president for what he is. He's not taking any responsibility. He's encouraging fights between governors, bidding up products that are essential,” said Ryan. “I don't know if you'll be able to find a healthcare worker that will vote for President Trump.”
The president has also come under fire for reportedly ordering his name to be printed on the stimulus checks being sent to Americans — which some worry could slow down the process of getting checks out to people in need.
“Are you freaking kidding me? Really? This is happening in America. A president's more worried about his political standing — his ego getting stroked — as opposed to getting this money,” said Ryan. “I just think that the average person where I grew up, where we come from in Ohio, is just appalled by something so obnoxious as trying to get your name on the check for your own political gain.”
The Treasury Department denies the decision will cause any delays.
Lawmakers are trying to come to a deal before the Paycheck Protection Program runs out of money this week. Republicans want to solely focus on boosting money to the small-business loan program, while Democratic lawmakers want to include help for hospitals, state and local governments and rapid testing.
“We just are not getting the presidential leadership that we need on some of these issues. That's the reality of the situation. So we're all trying to figure this out without, you know, the top dog helping us make this happen,” said Ryan.
Ryan argues individual Americans need more help than the $1,200 payment included in the CARES Act. On Tuesday, Ryan and Rep. Ro Khanna introduced a bill that would give most Americans $2,000 a month until the economy recovers.
“I just believe that these direct cash payments to people who are really suffering on the ground out here — it's going to be very, very helpful. There's a lot of anxiety in the country today that's obviously around the coronavirus, but for most people it's around the economic anxiety,” said Ryan.
Jessica Smith is a reporter for Yahoo Finance based in Washington, D.C. Follow her on Twitter at @JessicaASmith8.
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