Jeff Flake: Don’t Shut Down Gov’t Over Immigration, Pass Reform Instead

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Republican Sen. Jeff Flake of Arizona said Wednesday that Congress should not risk a government shutdown to stop President Barack Obama’s executive actions, and should instead respond by passing immigration reform.

“I hope we respond with legislation,” he told a few reporters just off the Senate floor. “I hope we pass legislation.”

Immigration reform legislation?

“Yes. That’s what we should have done before,” said Flake, who co-wrote and voted for the Senate-passed immigration reform bill in 2013, which was nixed by House Republicans.

TPM asked Flake if he would oppose using a government funding bill to stop Obama.

“Yes,” he nodded.

The government funding strategy — pushed by conservatives like Sen. Jeff Sessions (R-AL) and Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX), and dozens of House conservatives — would spark a shutdown if Obama refuses to sign a bill that ties his hands.

Echoing many Republicans, Flake argued that Obama acting unilaterally would make it tougher, not easier, to secure support for immigration legislation.

“It doesn’t help. It makes it tougher to get the broad-based immigration reform that we need. And so I wish he wouldn’t do it but it’s looks like it’s ready to come,” the senator said. Asked if he thinks Obama’s move will spur the House to act, he said, “No, I don’t. I think it’s going to make it more difficult. Unfortunately, that’s the bottom line.”

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