Sen. Al Franken (D-Minn.) was grilled Sunday on a local Minnesota television station for failing to say whether he supports a ban on people coming to the United States from Ebola-ravaged countries.
Franken started answering the question from panelists on WCCO-TV by saying it's "insufficient" to have a travel ban from Guinea, Liberia and Sierra Leone, because a "vast majority" of people traveling from those countries come through third countries.
"Let me tell you what I've done…" Franken began, before the panelists again asked him to answer the question about the travel ban.
"Let me tell you what I've been doing, because no matter whether you have it or not, it's actually a very small minority of flights that come directly from there," he said. "The vast majority come through third countries in Europe or from the Middle East."
Franken then started talking about the contact he's had with local hospitals, before he was again interrupted and told to answer the question about a travel ban. "Can you just answer that one?" one panelist asked.
"We want to do the most rational, effective thing to keep people safe in Minnesota," Franken replied. He was interrupted again, and finally said:
"I have nothing against a travel ban from West Africa," he said. "What I'm saying is that…"
"So, does that mean you're for it?" he was asked.
For the last few weeks, the Department of Homeland Security has said there are no direct flights from those countries, despite Franken's contention that there are a small number of direct flights. In light of the DHS comments, the debate in Washington has centered around whether individual people should be banned from entering the United States if they are traveling from West Africa, until they have undergone some type of quarantine.
Some states have pursued their own quarantine measures, which have prompted the Obama administration to ask those states to drop those orders.