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 ThuneFrustration builds as infrastructure talks drag On The Money: Senate braces for nasty debt ceiling fight | Democrats pushing for changes to bipartisan deal | Housing prices hit new high in June Transit funding, broadband holding up infrastructure deal 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 WhitehouseKavanaugh conspiracy? Demands to reopen investigation ignore both facts and the law Christine Blasey Ford's lawyers blast FBI's Kavanaugh investigation as 'sham' New York gun rights case before Supreme Court with massive consequences  MORE (R.I.) responded that the “timing” could be “negotiable.”

Whitehouse blamed the current impasse on immigration reform on Speaker John BoehnerJohn Andrew BoehnerFreedom Caucus presses McCarthy to force vote to oust Pelosi Stripping opportunity from DC's children Here's what Congress is reading at the beach this summer 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 Andrew BoehnerFreedom Caucus presses McCarthy to force vote to oust Pelosi Stripping opportunity from DC's children Here's what Congress is reading at the beach this summer 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.