Center for Disease Control and Prevention Director Tom Frieden had a tough time answering questions about whether he or the White House have ruled out imposing a travel ban to help stop the spread of Ebola.
Frieden faced members of a House subcommittee on Thursday, and many Republicans pressed him on why a ban on travel from West Africa hasn't been imposed. Frieden said several times that a ban would make it harder to help West Africa recover from Ebola, and make it harder to track people who may have the virus.
But Frieden stumbled over what sounded like a simple question: what the White House thinks about a travel ban. Rep. Steve Scalise (R-La.) asked if the White House is considering a ban at all.
"Have y'all had any conversations within the White House about a travel ban and whether or not the president has the authority?" he asked.
"From the point of view of CDC, we're willing to consider anything that will…"
"But have you considered it and have you ruled it out, or have you not considered it at all?" Scalise interrupted. "That's a yes or no question."
"We've discussed many aspects…" Frieden started before being pushed again to answer.
"How about a travel ban?"
"We've had discussions on the issue of travel to and from West Africa," Frieden said. "And have y'all ruled it out?" Scalise replied.
Frieden finally said, "I can't speak for the White House."
After Scalise pointed out that the CDC could make a recommendation for a travel ban that the White House might consider, Frieden fell back on his stock line, "We would certainly consider anything that will reduce risks to Americans."