Homeland Security Secretary John Kelly took the blame Tuesday for confusion over President Donald Trump's executive order halting travel from seven Muslim-majority countries, telling lawmakers that he will better inform them about the administration's plans moving forward.
"In retrospect I should have — this is all on me by the way — I should have delayed it just a bit," Kelly said during testimony to the House Homeland Security Committee.
"Going forward I would have certainly taken some time to inform the Congress and that's something I'll certainly do in the future."
Later Tuesday, a federal appeals court in San Francisco will hear arguments over whether the United States should restore the order. Federal Judge James Robart, who serves in the state of Washington, previously suspended it, prompting personal attacks from Trump.
Trump suggested that his administration will keep pressing the legal fight if the appeal fails.
Some bipartisan members of Congress protested that they did not have advance notice about the action, which was signed late last month and sparked confusion at airports and protests around the country. Multiple reports have suggested that Kelly's agency did not get a full opportunity to review the order's specifics before it had to enforce it.
In his testimony, Kelly repeated that he and some members of his team saw drafts of the order and suggested changes before Trump signed it. However, he did not make it clear if he saw the final version of the measure before Trump signed it.
Trump's order temporarily barred travelers from seven largely Muslim countries with visas from entering the United States amid what the White House called a need to vet immigrants properly to prevent terrorism. It also temporarliy halted refugee admissions and barred Syrian refugees indefinitely.
Kelly defended its legality, saying the administration moved quickly "so that, potentially, the people coming here to harm us would not get here in time."