I had a chance to visit with Rep. Flake today, along with several other bloggers. His remarks and questions stuck to spending and immigration.
As I mentioned below, Flake plans to challenge individual earmarks in the Agriculture Appropriations Bill on the House floor this week. While the list of earmarks he will challenge is off the record, he did say he would offer about a dozen amendments to the bill. He said this sort of sunlight and asking questions about earmarks could have stopped Duke Cunningham's corruption in its tracks. Among the questions he will ask: where is the federal nexus for the earmark? Is it authorized? Who requested this? Does the Member requesting the earmark have financial ties to the beneficiary?
Flake said he has felt some heat over his plans from fellow Members, including Republican Study Committee members.
On the President's veto threat of the emergency supplemental, Flake said Members are "taking the President a little more seriously on this veto threat."
Flake argued firmly for a comprehensive immigration bill: one that combines enforcement at the border with tough employer enforcement. He acknowledges concerns over a national ID card, but said one would probably be necessary for employer enforcement. Flake hangs this argument on statistics showing as many as 50 percent of illegal immigrants did not cross the border illegally, but rather overstayed their legal visit. Thus, border enforcement would only solve half the problem.
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