U.S. Sen. Jeff Flake found himself the target of Democrats after he voted last week not to extend unemployment benefits beyond 26 weeks.
Flake, R-Ariz., said in an interview this week in Tucson that the decision had nothing to do with the people receiving those benefits.
“What I supported was a Republican proposal that actually had offsets that said if this an offset, we have to extend unemployment, then lets find some spending reductions elsewhere,” Flake said. “We simply can’t continue to pile debt on our kids and our grandkids.”
Flake used much of the same reasoning to explain his vote against the budget, the first that Congress has passed in years. He said it involved too many budget tricks to pay for things and not enough cuts or actual payments.
He did say, however, that he is glad for the first time in years that Congress passed a full budget instead of a continuing budget resolution.
When Flake moved from the House to the Senate last year, he became a member of the Gang of Eight, the bipartisan Senate group that drafted an immigration reform bill that eventually passed the Senate.
The proposal stalled in the House but may be gaining legislative life. Flake said he wants House members to handle some of the immigration topics differently than the Senate.
“I hope that they have, for example, a more expansive guest worker program than we were able to negotiate in the Senate," he said. "They may have a different way to deal with those who are here illegally now, they may not have a special path to citizenship.”
Flake said he is confident the House can build a bipartisan coalition to pass an immigration reform plan the president will sign.