US House Committee on Foreign Affairs launched an inquiry into the Donald Trump administration's decision to halt funding to the World Health Organization (WHO), committee chairman Eliot Engel said on Monday.
In a letter to US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, the Democratic Congressman decried the decision to halt funding as a political distraction from the administration's response to the COVID-19 and demanded that the State Department produce records and information dealing with the decision, Xinhua news agency reported.
"President Trump's decision to halt funding for the World Health Organization (WHO) in the midst of a global pandemic is counterproductive and puts lives at risk," Engel wrote in the letter.
Engel said that though the WHO was imperfect, the organization had "played an essential role coordinating among governments around the world, and was quick to declare the spread of COVID-19 a health emergency and a pandemic."
The senior congressman pointed out that the WHO had made invaluable efforts to help slow the spread and flatten the curve of the pandemic.
"Attacking the WHO, rather than the COVID-19 outbreak, will only worsen an already dire situation by undermining one of our key tools to fight the spreading disease," said Engel.
The chairman set a deadline of May 4 for the State Department to hand over documents regarding the decision to withhold funding from the WHO.
As the death toll from COVID-19 is increasing across the United States, the White House has tried to deflect criticisms about its earlier blunders by blaming others.
President Donald Trump announced on April 14 he would halt funding to the WHO pending a review, which he said would cover the agency's "role in severely mismanaging and covering up the spread of coronavirus." The US contributes approximately USD500 million to the WHO annually, according to administration officials.
Pompeo has also said that the organization has failed to deliver on its mission during the deadly pandemic. Both the President and the secretary of state have accused the WHO of not being critical enough toward China, with Trump calling the organization "China-centric."
As of Monday afternoon, the United States reported more than 980,000 COVID-19 cases with over 55,000 deaths, according to the Center for Systems Science and Engineering at Johns Hopkins University.