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“There is no excuse” for the mistake, said Deborah Spero, deputy commissioner of U.S. Customs and Border Protection.

Dr. Steven Katkowsky, a Fulton County, Ga., health official, said he and his staff “found ourselves in a Catch-22,” because Georgia law wouldn’t allow them to stop Mr. Speaker’s travels until he disobeyed their medical orders.

Dr. Gerberding addressed federal missteps and suggested that the CDC expedite notification of domestic and international partners, improve the government’s ability to transport infectious patients long distances and extend federal quarantine authority. The current focus is on stopping infectious people from entering the United States or moving from state to state.

Mr. Harkin criticized the CDC for knowing on May 18 that Mr. Speaker was overseas with a drug-resistant form of TB, yet spending days confirming the information and trying to locate him before issuing an official alert to U.S. Customs and Border Protection on May 22. That was when tests determined that he had an even more drug-resistant form of the illness.

“This time frame should have been collapsed into just a few hours,” he said.

{bullet} This story is based in part on wire service reports.