Flake expects role in immigration reform talks next year

“Expect to be,” Flake told reporters while walking to Sen. Jon Kyl’s (R-Ariz.) whip office.

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Flake, along with Sen.-elect Ted Cruz (R) of Texas and freshman Sen. Marco Rubio (R-Fla.), is expected to make up the core of any Republican group supporting bipartisan Senate immigration reform next year.

Sens. John McCain (R-Ariz.) and Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) will also play important roles. Graham has restarted talks with Sen. Charles Schumer (D-N.Y.) on a framework for reform.

Republican Party strategists say the party needs to improve its performance with Hispanic voters and persistent conservative opposition to comprehensive immigration reform has been a sore point with this crucial electoral bloc. 

President Obama has said passing immigration reform would be a priority in 2013 and last week House Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) signaled support for addressing the issue, saying that a “comprehensive approach” was “long overdue.”