Republican lawmakers dragged the Ebola crisis into the political arena on Thursday, ramping up their demands that President Barack Obama impose new restrictions on travel from countries ravaged by the deadly virus.
Returning to Washington from the campaign trail three weeks before midterm elections, Republicans made the call for a travel ban a dominant theme at a congressional hearing on the outbreak.
The Obama administration has resisted a ban on travel from Guinea, Liberia and Sierra Leone in West Africa, where thousands have died in the Ebola outbreak that began in March.
"The president has that authority. He's choosing not to exercise it," said Representative Michael Burgess, a Texas Republican. "No one understands why we're not doing this fundamental job of defending the country."
During the House subcommittee hearing, lawmakers from both parties criticized the administration's handling of the Ebola outbreak in the United States and said public trust in the response was dwindling.
But that loss of trust has also fueled Republican charges of administration incompetence, particularly in light of recent embarrassments like the Secret Service's failure to keep a man with a knife from running into the White House and a cover-up of waiting list delays at Veterans Affairs hospitals.
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