By Elise Viebeck - 10/15/14 07:03 PM EDT
Speaker John BoehnerJohn BoehnerDem drops out of race for Boehner's old seat Conservative allies on opposite sides in GOP primary fight Clinton maps out first 100 days MORE (R-Ohio) said President Obama should “absolutely consider” banning travel from countries most affected by Ebola despite the White House's insistence that the option is off the table.
In his first public response to Ebola this month, Boehner said the administration “must be able to assure Americans” that the outbreak in Dallas is under control.
“We will continue to press the administration for better information about what steps will be taken to protect the American people, including our troops, from this deadly virus.”
Boehner is the highest-ranking Republican to float the idea of an Ebola travel ban. The administration argues the move would hamper the response effort in West Africa and, by extension, put Americans more at risk.
Still, it's been hard for the White House to avoid the debate; polls show strong public support for flight bans. Republicans have taken up the cause en masse, using the administration's hesitancy to criticize the wider Ebola response.
Two GOP Senate candidates called for flight bans on Wednesday night, joining several dozen lawmakers who agree.
Republican Joni Ernst, who is running for an open Iowa Senate seat, said it's “clear the administration and [Centers for Disease Control and Prevention] have underestimated the threat this virus poses.”
“Common sense dictates that we impose a temporary travel ban for civilians from countries that have high levels of infection while allowing for health care professionals and aid workers to continue their brave efforts to stop the spread in West Africa,” Ernst said in a statement.
Georgia Republican Senate candidate David Perdue echoed this view less than an hour later.
“President Obama once again failed to lead and took a serious threat far too lightly,” Perdue said in his own statement. “I have no confidence in how the Obama Administration has handled the Ebola crisis so far.”