The United States has officially notified the United Nations of its withdrawal from the World Health Organization, a White House official said Tuesday.
That notice of withdrawal was submitted to the U.N. secretary-general.
Congress was also notified Tuesday of the United States’ official withdrawal from the international health agency, Sen. Bob Menendez, D-N.J., said in tweet.
“Congress received notification that POTUS officially withdrew the U.S. from the @WHO in the midst of a pandemic,” Menendez, the top Democrat on the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, wrote. “To call Trump’s response to COVID chaotic & incoherent doesn’t do it justice. This won’t protect American lives or interests — it leaves Americans sick & America alone.”
The WHO did not immediately respond to a request for comment from NBC News.
“This is an abdication of America’s role as a global leader and it is the opposite of putting America first— it will put America at risk,” Sen. Patty Murray, D-Wash., said in a statement. “Refusing to work with our partners across the world to fight this pandemic will only prolong the crisis, further undermine our international standing, and leave us less prepared for future crises.”
“President Trump needs to realize this crisis doesn’t recognize borders and hiding from it or passing the blame won’t make it go away or make him any less responsible,” Murray, the top Democrat on the Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee, added.
The Republican chairmen of those two committees, Sens. Jim Risch, R-Idaho, and Lamar Alexander, R-Tenn., did not immediately respond to requests for comment from NBC News.
The announcement comes after Trump said at the White House in late May that the U.S. would be “terminating” its relationship with the WHO over its response to the COVID-19 pandemic.
“Because they have failed to make the requested and greatly needed reforms, we will be today terminating our relationship with the World Health Organization and redirecting those funds to other worldwide and deserving urgent public health needs,” Trump said. “The world needs answers from China on the virus. We must have transparency.”
That followed Trump in April announcing the U.S. was halting funding to the organization pending a review. In 2019, the U.S. contribution to the WHO was roughly 15 percent of the health agency’s budget.
A president typically does not have the ability to unilaterally redirect congressionally appropriated funding, and House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., had called the threat “dangerous” and “illegal” in April.