News & Politics

Pelosi Slammed Trump's China Travel Ban as a 'Scare Tactic.' Now She Says It Doesn't Go Far Enough

(AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite)

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) has changed her tune on President Donald Trump’s restrictions on travel from China, which were designed to slow the spread of the coronavirus. Democrats have long accused Trump of waiting too long to respond to the pandemic, but the administration announced the restrictions on January 31, long before the March lockdowns — and before Pelosi took her little trip to Chinatown.

Shortly after the restrictions were announced, Pelosi slammed them as one of Trump’s “scare tactics about people coming back into our country.” Yet on Sunday morning, she attacked the restrictions for the exact opposite reason, saying they didn’t go far enough.

“Actually tens of thousands of people were allowed in from China, it wasn’t as it was described as this great moment,” the House speaker said on CNN’s State of the Union. “So if you’re going to shut the door because you have an evaluation because of an epidemic, then shut the door.”

So is Pelosi now in favor of travel restrictions to slow the spread of the coronavirus?

In February, she visited Chinatown in order to discourage fears about the virus. A few days later, she slammed Trump’s response to the pandemic, accusing him of “using scare tactics about people coming back to our country.”

The House speaker is trying to have her cake and eat it, too. If the restrictions were nothing but a “scare tactic,” then Pelosi should be glad that people still made it back to the U.S. from China. If the real problem with the restrictions is that they didn’t go far enough, then Pelosi herself is culpable for fighting back against a wise measure to stop the spread of the virus.

Earlier this month, The New York Times reported that at least 430,000 people flew to the U.S. from China since the start of the outbreak, and 40,000 flew in after Trump’s travel restrictions. Those 40,000 were likely Americans, green-card holders, and their noncitizen relatives who were still allowed to enter the U.S. from China.

Pelosi was correct that “tens of thousands” entered the U.S. from China, but she likely would have pitched an even greater fit if even American citizens were barred from returning home under Trump’s travel restrictions. Her rush to blame Trump after the fact is dishonest and manipulative.

Tyler O’Neil is the author of Making Hate Pay: The Corruption of the Southern Poverty Law Center. Follow him on Twitter at @Tyler2ONeil.

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