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Congressman Flake says GOP could be headed for minority status

Congressman Jeff Flake continued his crusade to reform the way the Republican Party does business in Washington and beyond in a speech April 12 as part of the Arizona Chamber of Commerce & Industry’s “Eggs & Issues” Breakfast Series.
The 6th District Republican spoke candidly about what may be necessary for the party to come to a consensus on issues and realign itself with its traditional credo of smaller government, acknowledging that the only solution may be banishment to the “political wilderness of the minority for a few years.”
Mr. Flake spent much of his time discussing immigration, which he referred to as “the 500-pound gorilla in the middle of the room.” He said the strident voices in his party that demand deportation of 11 million illegal immigrants are an attempt to control one of the few remaining issues that still appeals to the party’s base. He said traditional core issues such as national security and a balanced budget may no longer ring true given the Dubai ports deal, budgetary and fiscal irresponsibility, and the overall growth of government.
When asked what he thought might occur when Congress reconvenes later this month, Mr. Flake said he believes the Senate will pass something close to the McCain-Kennedy immigration provisions.
He said procedurally the bill was stalled due to Senate Minority Leader Harry Reid’s refusal to allow for the introduction of unlimited amendments, which Mr. Flake said are necessary to facilitate discussion but may not significantly affect the end results.
However, Mr. Flake stated that he said he did not hold out similar hope for success in the House. “We may have to wait until after the November elections,” he said, “for a lame duck session to have the political will to come to terms with the issue.”
Mr. Flake admitted that he “swallowed hard” and voted for the House bill with the idea that he wanted to give the Senate a “vehicle — however ugly — to bring this issue up for debate” and to enable him to plead for an appointment to a conference committee. When asked if he thought that he would indeed be chosen, he said that it is ultimately leadership’s decision but he thought his vote might clear the way.
Meanwhile, State Rep, Russell Pearce, R-18, said during the April 10 immigration march that polls consistently show that 80 percent of Americans want the border secured and no amnesty.
He said that means between 235 and 260 million people agree with him, not with marchers and Congress. Mr. Pearce said it shows Congress is out of step with the public, and there may be consequences if they don’t abide by public’s wishes.
“If those folks continue to ignore the promises they made in 1986… I hope they are all replaced in the next election,” Mr. Pearce said. Specifically, he said, he is speaking of Mr. Flake. “I think it was a bad decision on my part not to run against him [this year]. His policies are bad for America.”
Reporter Jim Small contributed to this report.

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