A group of Republican senators led by U.S. Sen. Marco Rubio (R-Fla.) sent a letter Friday to President Joe Biden, asking his administration to implement a ban on travel between the United States and China in light of an “unknown respiratory illness” that has recently been spreading throughout China.

Led by Rubio, Senators J.D. Vance (R-Ohio), Rick Scott (R-Fla.), Tommy Tuberville (R-Ala.), and Mike Braun (R-Ind.) wrote a letter expressing concerns about the Chinese “respiratory illness” and urging the president to take swift action to prevent another health crisis.

“In light of an unknown respiratory illness spreading throughout the People’s Republic of China (PRC), we call on you to immediately restrict travel between the United States and the PRC,” the senators wrote. “As you know, the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) has a long history of lying about public health crises. During the COVID-19 pandemic, the CCP’s obfuscation of the truth, and lack of transparency, robbed the United States of vital knowledge about the disease and its origin.”

Providing historical context for their request, the Republican senators pointed to former President Donald Trump’s order that restricted travel from China into the United States in January 2020, which the senators claimed was able to protect U.S. citizens and reduce the spread of the COVID-19 virus.

“Many officials and commentators—including you—criticized his decision as being influenced by ‘xenophobia,’” the senators wrote. “But history and common sense show his decision was the right one.” 

The senators warned Biden that the world currently faces “another unknown pathogen” coming from China that has the potential to spread to other countries, including the United States.

“The PRC has reported an increase in this mystery illness—which it claims to be pneumonia caused by known pathogens—since mid-October,” the senators stated. “This illness reportedly is a special hazard for children and has overrun hospitals in the north of the country.”

Rubio and his Republican colleagues explained that the World Health Organization has noted that it is not clear whether the mysterious disease has been caused to an increase in respiratory infections or “separate events.” “If history is any indication, we have cause to be concerned,” the senators warned.

The increase in respiratory cases in China caused the World Health Organization to ask China last week for more information on the issue. The World Health Organization released a statement, saying, “WHO has made an official request to China for detailed information on an increase in respiratory illnesses and reported clusters of pneumonia in children.”

While the Republican senators acknowledged that the World Health Organization requested additional information from China regarding the “mystery illness,” Rubio and his fellow senators claimed that the Chinese Communist Party has an “incentive to lie.” Citing China’s record with the COVID-19 pandemic, the senators explained that a new pathogen could result in the derailment of China’s efforts to “stimulate” its economy.

“Besides, we should not wait for the WHO to take action given its track record of slavish deference to the CCP. We must take the necessary steps to protect the health of Americans, and our economy,” the senators wrote. “That means we should immediately restrict travel between the United States and the PRC until we know more about the dangers posed by this new illness. A ban on travel now could save our country from death, lockdowns, mandates, and further outbreaks later.”