The US was already behind on its payments when President Donald Trump said he would cut off funding to the World Health Organization, NPR reports.
Last month, President Trump announced he would halt US funding for the WHO over the international agency's handling of the COVID-19 outbreak, which he complained was "China centric." The US provides about 15 percent of the WHO's funding, NPR notes.
But it reports that when President Trump made that announcement, the US already owed WHO about $118 million in dues for 2020 as well as $81 million from 2019. According to NPR, those aren't the funds at risk from the announcement, as they have already been appropriated. A State Department spokesperson instead tells NPR future funding is what could be affected by the announcement.
However, Ashish Jha, director of the Harvard Global Health Institute, says this is unlikely. "I don't think that there is any real appetite in the US government to walk away from WHO for the long run," he said during a Council on Foreign Relations webinar, according to NPR. "This is much more political posturing, so part of me just sort of says we should take the president and his bluster a little less seriously."