As President Donald Trump was using his authority to ban travel from China, House Democrats were pursuing legislation to restrict the president’s authority to limit immigration.
Now, House Democrats are continuing to stand by their support for the No Ban Act even as the coronavirus pandemic continues to spread in the U.S., and throughout the world.
The legislation, introduced April 2019, “imposes limitations on the President’s authority to suspend or restrict aliens from entering the United States and terminates certain presidential actions implementing such restrictions,” and currently has 219 Democratic co-sponsors in the House of Representatives. (RELATED: FLASHBACK: Jan.21: Fauci Says Coronavirus ‘Not A Major Threat’ To U.S.)
The Daily Caller reached out to all 219 Democrats, but just two responded. Democratic California Rep. Judy Chu, the bill’s lead sponsor, said the legislation contains an exception for “public safety,” and is not related to the coronavirus crisis. (RELATED: Senate Democrats Refuse To Acknowledge Sexual Assault Accusations Against Joe Biden)
A few of the cosponsors signed on as the virus was spreading throughout the U.S. On February 28, Democratic Oregon Rep. Kurt Schrader and Democratic California Rep. Jim Costa signed on as cosponsers. On March 5, Democratic Illinois Rep. Daniel Lipinski signed on as a cosponsor. However, none responded to the Daily Caller when asked.
“The NO BAN Act was written over a year ago in response to President Trump’s unjustified Muslim bans and has absolutely nothing to do with the coronavirus,” Chu said in a statement emailed to the Daily Caller. “In fact, if you were to read the bill, there is a clearly stated exception for ‘public safety’ which “includes efforts necessary to contain a communicable disease of public health significance.”
Chu also claimed that the bill’s opponents were engaged in an “intentional effort to misinform the public during a pandemic.”
“Trying to tie the NO BAN Act to the coronavirus response reflects both a total lack of understanding of this legislation and of the Immigration and Nationality Act, as well as an intentional effort to misinform the public during a pandemic,” she said.
The only other Democrat to respond to the Daily Caller’s inquiry was North Carolina Rep. Alma Adams, who made clear that she was still an enthusiastic supporter of the bill.
“As for the Congresswoman’s position on the bill, she supports it. Not just yes, but hell yes,” Adams’ office told the Caller.
Meanwhile, Democratic leadership on Tuesday canceled the House of Representatives’ plans to return back to Washington next week, just one day after Democrats made the announcement. (RELATED: House Cancels Plan To Return Next Week One Day After Making Announcement)
According to House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer, the Capitol physician advised them not to return as well as a rise in coronavirus cases in the Washington, D.C. Area.
“We made a judgment that we will not come back next week but that we hope to come back very soon,” Hoyer said.
While Chu now insists the legislation has nothing to do with the coronavirus, Democrats were pushing the bill up until mid-March, over a month after the president banned travel from China.
The No Ban Act was scheduled to come to the floor on March 12, but was pulled from the House calendar, as Congress’ focus turned toward coronavirus stimulus legislation. Chu, alongside Reps. Ilhan Omar of Minnesota, Rashida Tlaib of Michigan, and Andre Carson of Indiana all advocated for the bill on a March 11 conference call with Muslim advocates, the same day the Trump administration announced it was banning travel from Europe.
“They hurt families and hurt our national security. And we must stop this president from overextending his authority and banning people from entire countries simply because of their religion,” Chu said last month.
“As the only member of Congress born in one of those banned countries and has relatives in another, I know firsthand how destructive this policy is to millions of people around the world who want to come to American to seek a better life,” Omar added.
House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy slammed the timing of the legislation after it was pulled from the floor last month, according to Fox News.
“Democrats could not have picked a worse week to try to undermine American travel restrictions,” McCarthy said. “President Trump’s quick decision to restrict travel to countries like Iran and China was a smart response and it is helping keep America safe.”