All GOP senators press Biden not to support expanding WHO pandemic authority


FIRST ON FOX: Sen. Ron Johnson, R-Wis., led the entire Republican Senate conference in calling on President Biden to reject agreements that would expand the authority of the World Health Organization (WHO) in the case of a global pandemic.

“We strongly urge you not to join any pandemic related treaty, convention, or agreement being considered” at the 77th World Health Assembly, reads a letter sent to Biden by Johnson and all 48 other Republican senators. 

The Republican senators stressed that any such agreement would be considered a treaty, which they noted requires “the concurrence of two-thirds of the Senate under Article I Section 2 of the Constitution.”

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Ron Johnson, Joe Biden

Sen. Ron Johnson led all GOP senators in a letter to Biden, calling on him not to support agreements to expand WHO authority.  (Getty Images)

The World Health Assembly (WHA) will take place from May 27 to June 1, and international agreements are expected to be considered. 

The WHA is the WHO’s decision-making body, which meets yearly, so it can lay out its goals and craft policies between the 194 member states. 

The senators emphasized the U.S. “cannot afford to ignore this latest WHO inability to perform its most basic function and must insist on comprehensive WHO reforms before even considering amendments to the International Health Regulations (IHR) or any new pandemic related treaty that would increase WHO authority.”

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Mitch McConnell, John Barrasso, John Thune

Johnson’s letter was signed by the entire conference, including the party’s leaders, Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, Minority Whip John Thune, and conference Chairman John Barrasso.  (Getty Images)

The Republicans claimed that the latest draft of the WHO’s new pandemic response treaty is “dead on arrival.”

A “revised draft of the negotiating text of the WHO Pandemic Agreement” from March detailed significant coordination and compelled information, technology, and resource sharing, with a significant emphasis on “equity.”

“Instead of addressing the WHO’s well-documented shortcomings, the treaty focuses on mandated resource and technology transfers, shredding intellectual property rights, infringing [on] free speech, and supercharging the WHO,” they wrote. 

They also claimed such agreements ignore that the origin of the COVID-19 virus still isn’t clear, “because Beijing continues to block a legitimate independent investigation.”

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Joe Biden gets his fifth COVID shot

Biden has expressed support for the concept of a global agreement.  (Photo by Anna Moneymaker/Getty Images)

While Biden’s administration has committed to enhancing global coordination to combat pandemics, it has also criticized some elements of the WHO’s potential treaty. Specifically, officials have poured cold water on agreements that don’t protect the patents of pharmaceutical companies sufficiently, Politico reported in January. 

In a statement to the outlet at the time, a Department of Health and Human Services spokesperson said, “The U.S. wants outcomes that are effective and operationally viable to protect national and global health, promote innovation and promote access to medical countermeasures, strengthen investments in global health security, secure additional governmental commitments and responsibility for pandemic prevention and response, that are consistent with U.S. laws, policies and practices.”

The White House and WHO did not immediately provide comment to Fox News Digital. 

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Ron Johnson

Johnson has pressed for more investigation of COVID-19’s origins and handling. (Bill Clark/CQ-Roll Call, Inc via Getty Images)

Johnson and the other Republicans, including Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell of Kentucky, Minority Whip John Thune of South Dakota, Republican conference Chairman John Barrasso of Wyoming and National Republican Senatorial Committee (NRSC) Chairman Steve Daines of Montana, said any potential support from the Biden administration for the international agreement would be “unacceptable.” 

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Johnson has been a fierce critic of Dr. Anthony Fauci, the former chief medical adviser to the president, and of the precautions put in place during the COVID-19 pandemic in the U.S. The Wisconsin senator has also criticized the pharmaceutical industry and vaccinations for the virus that were mandated across the country, as well as advocating for those who said they suffered injuries from the shots. 





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