White House counselor Kellyanne Conway on Wednesday sharply criticized House Republicans for failing to deliver sufficient border wall funding to President Trump when they controlled the chamber and cited that as a justification for his emergency declaration.
“There’s no question the Republican House failed, and they failed us in securing the border, but they also failed to make good on the promise to him that we would get that money for the wall,” Conway said. “They completely lied about that.”
Her comments, on Fox News’s “Fox & Friends” came a day after the House, now led by Democrats, passed a resolution to overturn Trump’s declaration of a national emergency on the southern border.
The measure, which passed 245 to 182, aims to thwart Trump’s use of the declaration to direct billions of dollars more in funding to border barriers than Congress has authorized. Democrats argued Tuesday that the move guts the Constitution.
During her television appearance, Conway was dismissive when asked about the 13 Republicans who joined Democrats in the chamber in seeking to nullify Trump’s order. She pointed out there were not enough votes to overcome a threatened veto.
“Fine, but it’s still veto-proof,” she said.
Asked what motivated the GOP defectors, Conway said: “I think there’s a number of them who are concerned about the precedent, but they should not lose sight of the fact as to why the president did this.”
Conway then cited two factors behind Trump’s declaration.
The first, she said, was his “solemn duty” to secure the border.
The second, she said, was that “the president waited for Congress to do its job.”
“It’s failed to do its job since he’s been president on securing the border, and it’s failed to do its job for decades, and so he waited for them.”
Conway made clear her criticism included the first two years of Trump’s term, when Republicans controlled both the House and Senate.
Conway’s comments echoed those of Trump in an interview last month in which he accused former House speaker Paul D. Ryan (R-Wis.) of reneging on a deal to provide wall funding.
Speaking to the Daily Caller, Trump said he reluctantly agreed to sign an omnibus spending bill in March 2018 to avert a government shutdown after Ryan promised him Republicans would secure border wall funding for him later in the year.
Tuesday’s House vote was the first time since passage of the National Emergencies Act of 1976 that Congress has invoked provisions allowing for a resolution of disapproval to nullify a presidential emergency declaration.
The measure next moves to the Republican-led Senate, where prospects for passage are less certain.
Trump issued the emergency declaration Feb. 15, as part of a deal to keep the government open after a 35-day partial shutdown over Christmas and much of January.
The president agreed to sign a spending bill that keeps the government funded through Sept. 30 and provides $1.375 billion for 55 miles of fencing along the Texas border, but he said he needed billions more.
The administration plans to redirect an additional $6.7 billion from several sources, including $3.6 billion from military construction projects that can be accessed via the emergency declaration.
Erica Werner contributed to this report.