Top GOP senator won't dismiss talk of shutdown over immigration
© Greg Nash

A high-ranking Senate GOP leader on Sunday left the door open to a government shutdown if President Obama moves forward with unilateral action on immigration reform.

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Asked by “Fox News Sunday” host Chris Wallace if Republicans would “take the bait” and shut down the government, Sen. John ThuneJohn ThuneGOP frustrated by slow pace of Trump staffing Senate takes lead on Trump’s infrastructure proposal Senate feels pressure for summer healthcare vote MORE (R-S.D.) said “it doesn’t solve the problem, Chris, but look, we’re having those discussions.”

Thune noted that House and Senate leaders “are having discussions” on how to react if Obama takes action on the lightning-rod issue as soon as this week.

But the Senate Republican Conference chairman charged that Obama would be “choosing friction and partisanship … instead of cooperation (which) would make it difficult” for a GOP-controlled Congress to do immigration reform “or anything” over the next two years.

Asked if Obama should wait until after Congress has passed a must-pass government-funding bill when it expires on December 11th, Democratic Senator Sheldon WhitehouseSheldon WhitehouseDOJ pitches agreements to solve international data warrant woes Senators push for enhanced powers to battle botnets GOP rejects Dem effort to demand Trump’s tax returns MORE (R.I.) responded that the “timing” could be “negotiable.”

Whitehouse blamed the current impasse on immigration reform on Speaker John BoehnerJohn BoehnerLobbying World Jordan won't run for Oversight gavel Oklahoma rep. launches long-shot bid for Oversight chair MORE (R-Ohio) who refused to consider the Senate-passed measure on comprehensive immigration reform.

The president “should force the hand of the Speaker,” Whitehouse told Wallace.

Rep. James Lankford (R-Okla.), an incoming senator, also weighed in on the matter - pointing out that “shutting down the government isn’t the only option” to stop Obama from taking unilateral action on the issue.

He did not expand on those other options. however.

On Thursday, BoehnerJohn BoehnerLobbying World Jordan won't run for Oversight gavel Oklahoma rep. launches long-shot bid for Oversight chair MORE referred to denying funding for certain things that the president would like to have when Congress sends a funding bill to the White House.