Tags: Barack Obama | Ebola Outbreak | republicans | travel | ban | africa

GOP: Obama Trying to Avoid Admitting Ebola Travel Ban Would Work

By    |   Tuesday, 21 Oct 2014 08:06 PM

Republicans on Tuesday slammed the latest travel restrictions by the Obama administration during the Ebola crisis, with Pennsylvania Rep. Tom Marino telling Newsmax that he hoped President Barack Obama was "not using this new half-measure as a way to avoid admitting that a ban would work.

"I am not sure why the implementation of a sensible travel and visa ban is taking so long," said Marino, a member of the House Homeland Security Committee. "It is a reasonable and prudent approach.

"Then again," he added, "the exact motives and justifications from this administration are all too often makeshift and superficial."

Texas Rep. Pete Sessions not only intensified his call for a full West Africa travel ban, but said the White House needed to rescind the 13,000 visas that have been issued to people in the Ebola-stricken area.

"While I'm encouraged by the administration’s efforts to implement new airport restrictions, simply rerouting flights is not a comprehensive solution that will put an end to this crisis," Sessions told Newsmax. "In order to effectively protect Americans from this disease, we must isolate the problem and thoroughly screen all American travelers coming from these countries."

Homeland Security Secretary Jeh Johnson said Tuesday that everyone traveling from Liberia, Sierra Leone, or Guinea now must land at one of the five U.S. airports that began screening people from those areas for Ebola earlier this month before continuing to their final destinations.

Customs and Border Protection officers conduct the screenings with health officials at the airports. They are John F. Kennedy International in New York, Newark Liberty International in New Jersey, Washington-Dulles International, O'Hare International in Chicago, and Hartsfield-Jackson International in Atlanta.

No direct flights from the three countries land at the airports. About 94 percent of the nearly 150 people traveling daily from West Africa land at those airports.

The screening includes using no-touch thermometers to determine if travelers have a temperature, a symptom of a possible Ebola infection. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) is also working with Homeland Security on the screening.

The new requirement means that people traveling from the region who were not originally passing through one of the five airports will have to rebook their flights, Johnson said.

Johnson said his agency now has "measures to identify and screen anyone at all land, sea and air ports of entry into the United States who we have reason to believe has been present in Liberia, Sierra Leone or Guinea in the preceding 21 days."

Republicans have been calling for a full travel ban since Eric Thomas Duncan, 42, was diagnosed as the first person in the United States to have Ebola.

Born in Liberia, Duncan contracted the disease after he helped a pregnant woman there who later died from Ebola. He left for the United States four days later, but did not tell screening officials that he had contact with someone who had Ebola.

Duncan died at Texas Health Presbyterian Hospital in Dallas on Oct. 8. Two nurses who helped care for Duncan has since contracted Ebola.

They are Nina Pham, 26, who is now at the National Institutes of Health in Maryland for treatment, and Amber Joy Vinson, 29, who is being cared for at Emory University Hospital in Atlanta.

In recent days, GOP members of Congress have pledged to introduce legislation to ban travel from West Africa after the Nov. 4 elections, the latest being Florida Sen. Marco Rubio.

"While Ebola’s deadly reach has proven to be a complex and unique international challenge, the many uncertainties surrounding this virus continue to threaten U.S. national security," Rubio said on Monday. "Our biggest priority is ensuring that sufficient safeguards are in place to limit the spread of Ebola, contain it at the source, and protect Americans."

Former Harvard Law School professor Alan Dershowitz called Rubio's proposal "clearly constitutional."

"The Congress has the power, as does the president, to protect the public health by banning travel by non-citizens to the United States," Dershowitz told J.D. Hayworth on "America's Forum" on Newsmax TV.

Florida Rep. Dennis Ross said on Friday that he would propose a travel ban when Congress reconvenes next month.

But Johnson's new requirement for west African travelers did not temper Republican calls for a full travel ban.

"With no vaccine or cure, we are facing down a disease for which there is no room for error," said Pennsylvania Rep. Tim Murphy, whose House Oversight and Investigations Subcommittee grilled CDC officials extensively last week.

"While the administration describes this announcement as new travel restrictions, they are nothing of the sort," Murphy added. "The only 'restriction' is which airport a traveler from an Ebola hot zone may land at when they arrive in the United States."

House Energy and Commerce Committee Chairman Fred Upton said that "funneling all passengers through these five airports helps close a gap that could have allowed affected travelers into our country with no screening at all, which makes it a good start, but certainly not a complete solution.

"More comprehensive travel restrictions can be used to keep Ebola from spreading and allow us to train all of our resources on treating the sick and containing this disease in the affected countries," the Michigan congressman said.

Texas Rep. Michael McCaul, chairman of the House Homeland Security Committee, called the new restrictions "commonsense," but reiterated his charge to Johnson and Secretary of State John Kerry to suspend visas to anyone in traveling from the region.

And House Judiciary Committee Chairman Bob Goodlatte said that the new rules showed that "the Obama administration is showing more concern about the possibility of people infected with Ebola entering the United States and spreading this deadly disease, but the administration must do more to protect Americans.

"President Obama has a real solution at his disposal under current law and can use it at any time to temporarily ban foreign nationals from entering the United States from Ebola-ravaged countries," the Virginia congressman added. "The vast majority of Americans strongly support such a travel moratorium, and I urge the president to take every step possible to protect the American people from danger."

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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Republicans on Tuesday slammed the latest travel restrictions by the Obama administration during the Ebola crisis, with Pennsylvania Rep. Tom Marino telling Newsmax that he hoped President Barack Obama was "not using this new half-measure as a way to avoid admitting that a ban would work.
republicans, travel, ban, africa
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2014-06-21
Tuesday, 21 Oct 2014 08:06 PM
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