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Speaker Pelosi: President Trump's Effort To Sideline The WHO Is 'Dangerous'

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., speaks to the press Thursday at the U.S. Capitol.
House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., speaks to the press Thursday at the U.S. Capitol.

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., is criticizing President Trump's effort to withhold funding from the World Health Organization and other steps his administration is reportedly taking to sideline the global health agency.

"It's stupid — it's more than stupid; it's dangerous," Pelosi told NPR.

In an interview Sunday with All Things Considered, Pelosi referenced reporting from The Washington Post, which found that members of the Trump administration had removed references to the WHO in its COVID-19 materials and initiatives. She says the administration is effectively isolating the United States during a global pandemic.

"Worse than [the funding] — if you can believe it — worse than that is that he and the secretary of state have been deleting any reference to the World Health Organization in any of our strategies on how we can deal with the pandemic. That may be more harmful than just the money," Pelosi said.

NPR has not independently confirmed the Post's reporting on steps the administration is taking to sideline the WHO.

Earlier this month, the president said he would halt funding to the WHO, an agency he's accused of being too "China-centric." The Democratic speaker added that while Trump could temporarily withhold funding, he couldn't make it policy.

"If he wants to hold up some money, that is questionable in terms of his legality, but he cannot stop the money ever from going," Pelosi said.

A next legislative effort

On the latest coronavirus relief package, which was signed into law on Friday, Pelosi dubbed House Democrats the "intellectual resources" in establishing the legislation's priorities. The $484 billion package included an additional $321 billion to replenish the quickly depleted Paycheck Protection Program for small businesses.

It passed the House Thursday with an overwhelming 388-5 vote, but it has been criticized by some Democrats, including New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo, who said the bill did not provide funds for state and local governments. Another New York Democrat, Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, voted against the bill, arguing it didn't do enough to protect working families.

In response to the criticism, Pelosi said "she wasn't defending" the legislation, but was "very proud" of what Democrats had accomplished.

Pelosi also said future coronavirus relief would focus on providing more funds for state and local governments.

"We will go forward and we will have in that legislation as large a number as possible to reflect the needs of our state and local governments, and that means to help them address the outlays they're making for the coronavirus and also to address the revenue loss that they're suffering," Pelosi said.

Copyright 2020 NPR. To see more, visit https://www.npr.org.