Dan Crenshaw Schools Maher on Dems Opposing Trump China Travel Ban

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On Friday's Real Time show on HBO, as liberal host Bill Maher debated Texas Congressman Dan Crenshaw over the Donald Trump administration's response to the coronavirus pandemic, the Republican Congressman argued against the myth that everyone but President Trump took the virus seriously early on as he recalled that Democrats actually opposed some of the President's early actions to keep the virus out of the U.S.

The congressman also informed Maher and his viewers that House Speaker Nancy Pelosi had been slow to support a bill for funding Trump administration efforts to prepare for the virus in February.

After Maher began by listing cases in which administration members had reportedly encouraged the President to take actions in January, suggesting that he had simply ignored them, Congressman Crenshaw jumped in to inform him that Democrats had opposed the early actions he did take:

CONGRESSMAN DAN CRENSHAW (R-TX): Two days later, he implemented a restrictive travel ban from China which he was widely criticized for. That same day on January 31, Nancy Pelosi proposed the No Ban Act, which would be congressional limitation on what President Trump was actually able to do with that travel restriction.

After Maher complained that some still managed to travel from China to the U.S. even after the travel ban, Crenshaw recalled that those who were allowed to enter the U.S. were either U.S. citizens or green card holders, and then pointed out that Democrats like presidential candidate Joe Biden had opposed the travel ban:

CONGRESSMAN CRENSHAW: It sounds to me like you're fully agreeing with President Trump on this when everyone else disagreed with him if you're saying that you wish that that travel restriction had been more extreme. Okay, fine, you apparently have the foresight then when nobody else did, but the fact is, you know, if Joe Biden was in charge at that moment, he's already said he wouldn't have done it. He criticized it at the time. Nancy Pelosi actually proposed legislation to stop it.

Later on, the congressman also recounted that, after the administration requested funding to prepare for the virus, Speaker Pelosi was slow to respond:

CONGRESSMAN CRENSHAW: Because you mentioned February 25, the day before, February 24, that's when the administration requested two and a half billion dollars from Congress to fulfill, you know, CDC, NIH, and FDA funding to combat the virus and the potential spread of it. What happened right then? … Did we vote on a supplemental funding bill? No. Did we wait days to vote? No, still didn't vote on it. You know what we voted on later that week? Nancy Pelosi -- the only thing she would put on the floor to vote on was a bill to ban flavored tobacco. That's what actually happened. It was only a week later that we actually voted on the supplemental funding that the administration requested.

Below is a transcript of relevant portions of the Friday, April 17, Real Time with Bill Maher on HBO:

10:22 p.m. Eastern

BILL MAHER: Let's just go through the timeline, okay, because he was warned. This did not have to happen. Alex Azar, his Health and Human Services guy, January 18, he warned him about this, and then again on January 30. Trump said he was being an alarmist. Peter Navarro -- somebody else who talks to Trump a lot -- called him directly January 29: "You got to get ahead of this."

CONGRESSMAN DAN CRENSHAW (R-TX): Two days later, he implemented a restrictive travel ban from China which he was widely criticized for. That same day on January 31, Nancy Pelosi proposed the No Ban Act, which would be congressional limitation on what President Trump was actually able to do with that travel restriction.

MAHER: Okay, but that, I mean, he lies about that. First of all -- he said he stopped people coming in from China. He did not. He said he was ahead of it -- 43 countries did it before we did. There are still people coming in from China. He only stopped foreign nationals.

CONGRESSMAN CRENSHAW: Let me address that because I know that's what people are saying right now, but the reality is, you know, it was about 40,000 people came in after that. These were U.S. citizens and green card holders and passport holders being repatriated -- U.S. citizens. So you have to make the argument that we shouldn't allow them in.

It sounds to me like you're fully agreeing with President Trump on this when everyone else disagreed with him if you're saying that you wish that that travel restriction had been more extreme. Okay, fine, you apparently have the foresight then when nobody else did, but the fact is, you know, if Joe Biden was in charge at that moment, he's already said he wouldn't have done it. He criticized it at the time. Nancy Pelosi actually proposed legislation to stop it.

MAHER: People are still coming in from China -- it wasn't just foreign nationals.

(…)

CONGRESSMAN CRENSHAW: Because you mentioned February 25, the day before, February 24, that's when the administration requested two and a half billion dollars from Congress to fulfill, you know, CDC, NIH, and FDA funding to combat the virus and the potential spread of it. What happened right then? I'll tell you because I was in Congress, and I know what happened. Did we vote on a supplemental funding bill? No. Did we wait days to vote? No, still didn't vote on it. You know what we voted on later that week? Nancy Pelosi -- the only thing she would put on the floor to vote on was a bill to ban flavored tobacco. That's what actually happened.

It was only a week later that we actually voted on the supplemental funding that the administration requested. Your criticism appears to be based on one thing -- that Trump was overly optimistic. That's his style, you know, again, you can criticize it. That's fine. But it's not connected to the actions that we're actually taking because if I back up even further, you know, February 4, the CDC announced its ongoing work with five laboratories to perform community-based influenza surveillance and study the spread of the virus, what we're trying -- we're in a fact-finding mode in February. People forget this.

MAHER: We weren't.

CONGRESSMAN CRENSHAW: People keep calling February this lost month. But it's really not. That's an easy and cheap accusation because there's no big, bold moves taken like there was in March. But the reality is our government was working to create that test. Did it work as fast as we would have liked? Of course not, and there's a lot of reasons for that which I'm happy to go into. By March 3, there was only 102 cases in the United States, and yet I'm hearing criticism that we should have been locked down weeks earlier. But do you think the American people would have accepted that with only 100 cases in the United States? Italy didn't lock down until March 10, Spain, not until March 14, the UK not until later in March.

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