Minority Whip Steve Scalise on Tuesday urged House Democrats to cancel a vote on their bill that would dismantle President Trump’s travel ban this week, in light of the coronavirus outbreak.
The Louisiana Republican argued that President Trump’s ability to limit incoming travel from China early on in the outbreak was a strong step in the right direction.
“The president ought to be able to keep potential terrorists out of our country,” Mr. Scalise said. “But now with this outbreak of coronavirus, the president also needs all the tools available to limit people coming in from countries with a propensity of coronavirus.”
In light of the coronavirus outbreak, President Trump barred foreign nationals who have been inside China or Iran within the last 14 days from entering the U.S.
Travelers from South Korea and Italy have to be screened for fever and other symptoms before and after their flights.
Vermont Sen. Bernard Sanders, one of the two Democratic front-runners to challenge Mr. Trump, said Monday he would not close the borders as part of his response to the virus.
The bill was designed to target the controversial travel ban approved by the Supreme Court in June 2018, which many opponents see as just a different iteration of a Muslim ban.
Known as the No Ban Act, it would reverse restrictions on the countries under the travel ban and strengthen provisions in the Immigration and Nationality Act that prohibit religious discrimination.
The Supreme Court’s decision allowed the administration to restrict entry from citizens of seven countries — Iran, Libya, North Korea, Somalia, Syria, Venezuela and Yemen — because they were determined to be uncooperative in sharing information the U.S. needed to vet incoming visitors. The version approved by the Supreme Court allowed citizens from those countries to apply for waivers from the ban.
A new version of that plan went into effect last month, with Mr. Trump expanding the list to 13 countries, adding Burma, Eritrea, Kyrgyzstan, Nigeria, Sudan and Tanzania. The new countries are subject to a less restrictive ban, as only applicants from certain programs are affected.