Bipartisan global transparency bill introduced today…Smith-Cuellar bill would strengthen response to force WHO reform
Rep. Chris Smith (R-NJ) and Rep. Henry Cuellar (D-TX) introduced bipartisan legislation today to lift the veil of secrecy on how the World Health Organization (WHO) deals with governments around the world, including the Chinese government, in the wake of misinformation the People’s Republic of China provided to the WHO that delayed a global response and enabled the coronavirus to spread throughout the U.S. and around the globe.
“The WHO should not be a partisan organization, and this bill would shed light on how it operates, and if or how actors like the Chinese government can unduly influence it for their own gain,” said Smith. “China is a totalitarian dictatorship, that has used its propaganda machine to cloak its malfeasance and undermine the global COVID-19 response. We need to make sure that the WHO provides safe, unbiased and reliable health resource for the world. Lives are at stake and we cannot allow propaganda and misinformation to drive the WHO.
“As the former chair and current ranking member of the House global health subcommittee, I have generally supported the WHO’s mission, but its integrity has been compromised. The reforms in this bill will force reform and leave us better prepared for the next pandemic,” Smith said.
Rep. Cuellar said the bill would improve the WHO by reforming its information sharing processes.
“It is crucial that we increase accountability and transparency in global health organizations, like the World Health Organization (WHO), to better protect our nation’s health,” said Congressman Cuellar. “This bipartisan legislation will improve the WHO by reforming information sharing processes of emerging health crises, reducing any improper influence of foreign states, and increasing preparedness for future pandemics. As a senior Appropriator, I will continue to support increased federal oversight of global health organizations, which the U.S. heavily finances, so that we are better prepared to respond to future outbreaks. I want to thank Congressman Smith for his leadership on this issue.”
Smith has been a leader in the US Congress challenging the Chinese government’s horrific human rights record, its regular use of torture, and the scant regard it shows for the health and safety of the Chinese people. He has led several human rights missions to China but has also been denied entry visas by the Chinese communist government. Most recently, China named Smith for possible retaliation because of his leadership role in fighting for access to information for U.S. victims of COVID-19, which is widely reported to have had its origins in China.
Smith serves as ranking member of the Congressional-Executive Commission on China, and for many years was its chairman. He has held more than 60 hearings on the Chinese government’s abuses of the human rights of its own citizens.