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.

Asked by “Fox News Sunday” host Chris Wallace if Republicans would “take the bait” and shut down the government, Sen. John ThuneJohn ThuneFCC chief pushes phone companies to offer free robocall blocking How the new aviation law will affect your travel GOP chairman seeks answers about Tesla’s autopilot feature 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 WhitehouseWhy Kaine is the right choice for Clinton Report: More, stronger cyber attacks to flood networks Senate Dems push Obama for more Iran transparency MORE (R.I.) responded that the “timing” could be “negotiable.”

Whitehouse blamed the current impasse on immigration reform on Speaker John BoehnerJohn BoehnerClinton maps out first 100 days The Hill's 12:30 Report Boehner on Cruz: 'Lucifer is back' 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 BoehnerClinton maps out first 100 days The Hill's 12:30 Report Boehner on Cruz: 'Lucifer is back' 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.

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