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GOP leaders call on Pelosi to pull travel ban bill over coronavirus

GOP leaders call on Pelosi to pull travel ban bill over coronavirus
© Greg Nash

House Republican leaders are calling on Speaker Nancy PelosiNancy PelosiGovernors take heat for violating their own coronavirus restrictions Spending deal clears obstacle in shutdown fight Ocasio-Cortez, Cruz trade jabs over COVID-19 relief: People 'going hungry as you tweet from' vacation MORE (D-Calif.) to pull a bill that would rescind President TrumpDonald John TrumpBiden adds to vote margin over Trump after Milwaukee County recount Krebs says allegations of foreign interference in 2020 election 'farcical'  Republicans ready to become deficit hawks again under a President Biden MORE’s controversial travel ban, arguing it could hinder the administration’s ability to limit the number of individuals entering the U.S. from countries that have faced widespread outbreaks of coronavirus.

House Minority Whip Steve ScaliseStephen (Steve) Joseph ScaliseTop Republicans praise Trump's Flynn pardon Richmond says GOP 'reluctant to stand up and tell the emperor he wears no clothes' New RSC chairman sees 'Trumpism' as future MORE (R-La.) said on Tuesday that while he believes the Democratic-led bill, which is slated to come to the floor this week, is “bad policy” that limits the administration’s ability to vet potential terrorists, it could also have unintended consequences in spreading the virus. The Louisiana Republican cited Trump’s decision to limit the number of people coming in from China as a necessary precaution amid early reports of the widespread outbreak in that country, telling reporters the bill could create obstacles for officials looking to prevent the spread of the disease.

“I know there is one piece of legislation that's scheduled for the floor this week that I would urge Speaker Pelosi to pull back on, and that is the No Ban Act. You saw at the very beginning of this, President Trump was able to take quick action when so many cases were coming out of China, and we still don't know enough about the genesis of this disease in China and how it may have started there,” Scalise told reporters.

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“Unfortunately, they didn't share enough information with us as quickly, where we could have done more things earlier. But at the same time, the president was able to take quick action to limit the number of people coming in from China that had exposure to coronavirus, but the No Ban Act would make it more difficult for the president to keep Americans safe by addressing needs as we see other countries like Iran — you're seeing a large, potential large outbreak in Iran — Iran is one of those countries that we currently have a travel ban on because they don't allow us to properly vet that terrorists aren't coming into our country.”

In addition to calling on Democratic leadership to refrain from bringing the legislation up for a vote, Scalise said Republicans are working to ensure the resources to respond to the outbreak are readily available.

“The president ought to be able to keep potential terrorists from coming into our country, but now with this outbreak of coronavirus, the president also needs to have all the tools available to limit, people coming in from countries with a high propensity of coronavirus,” he continued.

“You wouldn't want legislation that would make it more difficult. Hopefully, that bill gets pulled this week, but in the meantime, we need to continue to do all that we can to ensure that the administration has the tools they need, and we're working together to inform the public, of the various precautions that they can take as we're trying to find a vaccine.”

House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthyKevin Owen McCarthyTop Republicans praise Trump's Flynn pardon Richmond says GOP 'reluctant to stand up and tell the emperor he wears no clothes' Sunday shows preview: Biden transition, COVID-19 spike in spotlight MORE (R-Calif.) echoed Scalise’s sentiments, arguing the timing of the travel ban bill vote would be inappropriate.

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“Steve talked about this just earlier — if there’s one thing that the Speaker should look at, it's not to move forward on the No Ban Act,” he said at the news conference.

“This will harm the ability for this country to continue to keep us safe. It is the wrong time, wrong place and wrong legislation to even be talking about.”

The No Ban Act aims to rein in Trump’s ability to “suspend or restrict aliens from entering the United States” and limit the administration from putting in place similar bans in the future. It also includes language that would prevent “religious discrimination in various immigration-related decisions, such as whether to issue an immigrant or non-immigrant visa, with certain exceptions.”

Trump issued the initial travel ban on seven majority-Muslim countries in 2017, which was met with strong pushback from Democrats, who argued it was discriminatory and unconstitutional, and faced a series of legal challenges. He then expanded it earlier this year to include Nigeria, Eritrea, Tanzania, Sudan, Kyrgyzstan and Myanmar.