White House press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders tore into Republican senators who plan to vote against President Donald Trump’s declaration of a national emergency to seize border wall funding.
“My message to that group is to do your job,” Sanders said during an appearance Tuesday on Fox News’ “Fox & Friends.” “If you had done what you were elected to do on the front end then the president wouldn’t have to fix this problem on his own through a national emergency.”
Trump declared a national emergency last month in an effort to bypass congressional approval for funding to build his long-promised wall along the U.S.-Mexico border. The declaration would allow him to reroute billions of dollars from Defense Department construction projects toward his wall.
Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) on Monday said he expects a resolution to block the declaration will pass in the Senate, though he said he does not believe it will receive enough votes for lawmakers to override a veto.
“I think what is clear in the Senate is that there will be enough votes to pass the resolution of disapproval, which will then be vetoed by the president and then in all likelihood the veto will be upheld in the House,” McConnell told reporters.
At least four Republican senators ― Susan Collins of Maine, Lisa Murkowski of Alaska, Thom Tillis of North Carolina and Rand Paul of Kentucky ― have said they will join Democrats to vote in favor of the resolution.
“I can’t vote to give the president the power to spend money that hasn’t been appropriated by Congress,” Paul said during an event in Kentucky on Saturday. “If we take away those checks and balances, it’s a dangerous thing.”
Trump is expected to veto the resolution if passed by a simple majority, which would mark the first veto of his presidency. Twenty Senate Republicans would need to break with the president on his declaration for Congress to override his veto.
Last week, 13 House Republicans voted with Democrats to pass the resolution. The Senate is set to vote on it before March 15, when the upper chamber adjourns for a weeklong recess.
“The president has the absolute authority ― in fact, he has a duty ― to call a national emergency to fix the crisis that we have going on at our border,” Sanders told Fox News on Tuesday. “The president has to do what is absolutely necessary and what is right.”
Trump on Wednesday called on his party’s senators to “STAY UNITED” in support of his emergency declaration. “Our Country is being invaded with Drugs, Human Traffickers, & Criminals of all shapes and sizes,” he tweeted.
Though fewer people are being apprehended while crossing the southern border illegally each year— about 400,000 in fiscal 2018 compared with 1.6 million in 2000 ― the number of migrant families crossing it has surged, U.S. Customs and Border Protection officials said this week.
More than 76,000 migrants entered the U.S. from Mexico without authorization last month ― more than double the number from the same period last year, according to the CBP.
Watch Sanders’ full interview on “Fox & Friends” below. Her comments on Republican senators opposing Trump’s emergency declaration begin around the 4-minute mark.