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Flake floats possible congressional punt on Dreamer solution

Sen. Jeff Flake, R-Ariz., leaves a meeting with a bipartisan group of senators, Monday Jan. 22, 2018, on Day Three of the government shutdown on Capitol Hill in Washington. (AP Photo/Jacquelyn Martin)

PHOENIX — Congress faces a March deadline to come up with a solution to the Dreamer issue, but U.S. Sen. Jeff Flake (R-Ariz.) said the matter may be punted to a later date.

The senator told reporters Thursday that delaying potential action is what few on Capitol Hill want, but it may be necessary until a deal can be reached that can be accepted by both Republicans and Democrats.

However, Flake was aware a delay could be seen as failure.

“That would be considered a failure by all of us to not do something permanent now,” he told Politico. “This has been far too long for us and others to wait. But I do think, in the end, [Democrats] would take [the extension].”

Flake didn’t give a timeline for the extension, but it seemed others he spoke with wouldn’t mind waiting until after November’s midterm elections.

“A lot of Democrats, a lot of the base, from what I hear is just saying: ‘Forget it. Wait for the midterms,'” he told the outlet. “It’s not as if we hold all the cards here as Republicans.”

Flake said he has the backup legislation in the works, but is also drafting a plan that would check most of the boxes on President Donald Trump’s list: A path to citizenship for some brought to the U.S. as children, restrictions on family-based immigration, a diversity visa lottery ban and increased border funding.

An extension on Dreamer legislation could play a part in avoiding a potential partial shutdown of the federal government on Thursday night.

Lawmakers had sought to tie immigration matters to a deal to keep the lights on, but Flake’s bill could remove that bargaining chip from the table.

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