Canceling a campaign fundraising trip for the second straight day, Obama met into the evening with top aides and health officials. The White House said Obama also placed calls to Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper and Swedish Prime Minister Stefan Lofven to discuss the need for an international response to the outbreak in West Africa.
Obama authorized a call-up of reserve and National Guard troops in case they are needed. His executive order would allow more forces than the up-to-4,000 already planned to be sent to West Africa, and allow for longer periods of time. Speaking to reporters at the White House, Obama said several people leading the government’s Ebola response also have other priorities.
"It may make sense for us to have one person … so that after this initial surge of activity we can have a more regular process just to make sure we are crossing all the T’s and dotting all the I’s," he said.
He said he had no "philosophical objection" to imposing a travel ban on West Africa if it would keep Americans safe but had been told by health and security experts that it would be less effective than measures already in place.
Earlier in the day, during a contentious congressional hearing, Republican after Republican demanded that Obama impose a travel ban.
When federal health officials stressed the importance of stopping the outbreak at its source, Rep. Fred Upton, R-Mich., responded, "You’re right, it needs to be solved in Africa. But until it is, we should not be allowing these folks in, period."
"People’s lives are at stake, and the response so far has been unacceptable," declared Upton, chairman of the Energy and Commerce Committee. A handful of congressional Democrats also have endorsed the travel ban that’s mainly been pushed by Republicans.
About 100 to 150 people fly into the U.S. each day from Liberia, Sierra Leone and Guinea, the three nations hit hardest by Ebola.
Rep. Tim Murphy, R-Pa., said the "American public loses confidence each day" — a result of the failure to protect the two nurses and other mistakes.
Dr. Tom Frieden, director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, told lawmakers that the investigation into how the nurses became infected with Ebola was ongoing.
Even as he urged calm, he said the nation’s hospitals must watch for people who might have been infected in West Africa. He said the CDC has fielded more than 300 calls from concerned doctors and public health officials, with no new Ebola cases uncovered.