There was very little hedging yesterday at a Senate hearing on how the feds will deal with the issue of closing the border with Mexico over the swine flu outbreak. It probably isn't going to happen.
The outright rejection of the idea by Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano and a top official of the Centers for Disease Control caught Senators of both parties off guard.
"What conditions would prevail, that would say 'we need to close the border with Mexico,' if any? asked Sen. John McCain.
"I don't think there are any," said the CDC's Rear Admiral Anne Schuchat.
"You don't think there are any," said a puzzled McCain, his voice trailing off as if he couldn't believe what he was hearing.
A few minutes later, Schuchat piped up that she wanted to clarify her answer. I figured that she was going to back away from her statement and leave the door open for a possible border closure.
But that didn't happen.
"There's no circumstance in which border closure might have value," she told a Senate Committee.
Under questioning, Schuchat explained that scientific modeling done as recently as 2007 showed that once a flu virus is in the United States, shutting down the border doesn't do anything to slow its spread.
But there were several Senators who just didn't believe that, as they repeatedly urged the feds to reconsider the idea.
That back and forth seems likely to be repeated today at a House hearing, as lawmakers struggle to understand where this medical crisis might be going.
The issue also surfaced in last night's news conference at the White House with President Obama, who also sided against the idea of closing off the border, saying officials have told him it won't stop the spread of the virus.
"From their perspective, it would be akin to closing the barn door after the horses are out," the President said.