GOP lawmakers: Ebola flight ban ‘reasonable and timely’

The top ranking Republicans on the House and Senate committees that oversee transportation issues said Wednesday that a ban on flights to West African nations that are battling Ebola would be “reasonable and timely.” 

House Transportation Committee Chairman Rep. Bill Shuster (R-Pa.) and Sen. John Thune (R-S.D.), who is the top ranking Republican on the Senate’s transportation panel, said the Obama administration has been wrong to resist calls from other lawmakers for an Ebola flight ban with fear spreading about an outbreak of the disease in the U.S. 

“With Ebola spreading even within the hospital setting, we should not delay in taking additional measures to prevent individuals carrying the virus from traveling to the U.S.,” Shuster and Thune said in a statement.  

{mosads}“We believe a temporary travel ban for such individuals who live in or have traveled from certain West African countries is reasonable and timely,” the lawmakers continued 

Pressure has been building on the Obama administration to end commercial flights to and from West African countries since Thomas Eric Duncan became the first person in the U.S. to be diagnosed with Ebola shortly after visiting Liberia. 

Duncan, who died last week, was diagnosed in Dallas after flying from Liberia to Texas with stops in Brussels and Washington. 

Several lawmakers in both parties have responded to the arrival of Ebola in the U.S. by calling for a complete ban on travel between the U.S. and West Africa, although very few airlines offer direct flights to that part of the continent. 

Obama administration officials have thus far resisted the calls for a flight ban, arguing that cutting off flights would make it more difficult to deliver relief supplies to Africa. 

The administration has instead increased screening for Ebola symptoms at airports in New York, New Jersey, Washington, Chicago and Atlanta. The administration argues that 94 percent of passengers who are flying from Africa to the U.S. will have to connect at one of those five airports. 

Shuster and Thune said Wednesday that they have are not reassured by the increased Ebola checks at select international airports. 

“We sent a letter yesterday to [Transportation and Homeland Security] Secretaries [Anthony] Foxx and [Jeh] Johnson requesting detailed information about their plans and protocols to prevent further transmission of Ebola and other infectious diseases within the U.S., especially given our interconnected transportation network,” the lawmakers wrote. “It is the job of the congressional oversight committees to ensure that the administration is doing everything it can to address such threats.”

Tags Bill Shuster Ebola John Thune
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