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Thune Joins Colleagues in Introducing Ebola Visa Ban Legislation

Bill would create temporary visa ban for residents of countries with high rates of Ebola

November 20, 2014

Washington, D.C. — 

U.S. Senator John Thune (R-South Dakota) today joined Senators Marco Rubio (R-Florida), Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa), Pat Roberts (R-Kansas), and Mark Kirk (R-Illinois) in introducing the Keeping America Safe from Ebola Act of 2014 to impose common-sense travel restrictions by creating a temporary visa ban for foreign nationals who are residents of a country that the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) has designated as a country with “widespread transmission of Ebola.”

“As the ranking member of the Senate Commerce, Science, and Transportation Committee, I have questions about our country’s ability to handle the threat that Ebola poses among our transportation sectors, including airports and ports,” said Thune. “We need to do all we can to keep Americans safe and to prevent the spread of Ebola, which is why Congress should place a temporary travel ban on individuals coming from areas with widespread transmission of Ebola. ”

The legislation would suspend new visas and revoke current visas for individuals who are permanent residents or nationals of a country the CDC has designated as a country for “widespread transmission of Ebola” and whose last habitual residency was a country the CDC certified as a country with “widespread transmission of Ebola.” Aid workers and foreign military who must travel to the United States would be exempt. The bill also requires the president to report to Congress every 30 days to provide an update on the Ebola outbreak and would sunset the bill 60 days after the Director of the CDC certified there is no longer an Ebola outbreak.

In October, Thune joined House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee Chairman Bill Shuster (R-Pennsylvania) in calling for a temporary travel ban from affected West African countries. Additionally, Thune and Shuster sent a letter on October 14th calling on the U.S. Departments of Transportation and Homeland Security to provide an accounting of their plans to help protect the public from the transmission of the Ebola virus or any other infectious disease via the nation’s transportation network. On October 23rd, the two members also sent a letter to President Obama urging him to consider use of the Civil Reserve Air Fleet to help deliver aid and resources to West Africa.

Companion legislation was introduced in the House today by U.S. Representative Mike Kelly (R-PA).