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 Randolph ThuneGun proposal picks up GOP support Overnight Regulation: Senate panel approves driverless car bill | House bill to change joint-employer rule advances | Treasury to withdraw proposed estate tax rule | Feds delaying Obama methane leak rule Dems see Trump as potential ally on gun reform 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 WhitehouseDem senator: 'How many lives must be lost before we act?' Sen. Manchin won’t vote for Trump’s mine safety nominee Overnight Regulation: SEC chief grilled over hack | Dems urge Labor chief to keep Obama overtime rule | Russia threatens Facebook over data storage law MORE (R.I.) responded that the “timing” could be “negotiable.”

Whitehouse blamed the current impasse on immigration reform on Speaker John BoehnerJohn Andrew Boehner‘Lone wolf’ characterization of mass murderers is the epitome of white privilege Pelosi urges Ryan to create select committee on gun violence Ex-congressman Michael Grimm formally announces bid for old seat 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, John BoehnerJohn Andrew Boehner‘Lone wolf’ characterization of mass murderers is the epitome of white privilege Pelosi urges Ryan to create select committee on gun violence Ex-congressman Michael Grimm formally announces bid for old seat 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.