Over the past two years, one of the Senators whom I’ve grown to respect is Arizona Republican Senator Jeff Flake. I don’t agree with his conservative politics, but he’s actually been one of the few Republicans to speak out against Trump and try to pass legislation (without much success) to curb the Trump policies he disagrees with. He tried to get a DACA bill, a bill to fight against cuts in legal immigration, fights against tariffs, a resolution against Russian interference in our elections. All of those efforts were undermined by McConnell and the Republican leadership.
The challenge that Jeff Flake has is that the issues where he has the most disagreement with President Trump are in areas where Trump has used his executive orders to get his way. A lone Senator cannot do much to stop executive orders unless the Senator has the cooperation of the Republican leadership. Mitch McConnell has a devil’s bargain with Trump, though, where McConnell would get the conservative legislation that he wants passed in exchange for giving President Trump a pass for saying the worst things against minority groups, the press and our foreign allies.
Many progressives have been angry that Senator Flake has voted for most of Donald Trump’s legislative agenda. I would argue, though, that the legislation that has passed through Congress is not really Donald Trump’s, but the legislation that Paul Ryan, Mitch McConnell and congressional conservatives have been fighting for decades. Trump really didn’t have any detailed legislative proposals coming into office, so Ryan, McConnell and the Republican leadership were happy to fill the void. I am opposed to most of the conservative legislation that has passed through this Congress. Senator Flake is a conservative, and I don’t expect a conservative like Flake to vote against conservative legislation like tax cuts or deregulation.
Our fight as progressives is to regain political power in the national and state scene and to fight for progressive causes. That’s not Flake’s fight. Flake is fighting for a decent and honorable conservatism that is untainted by racism, anti-immigrant sentiment and white supremacist thought. Progressives and Senator Flake are fighting very different fights. But these two fights share a common foe: President Trump.
I think there are two different and important fights in this nation right now. Progressives need to fight for political power and figure out some way to bridge the divide between the working class white communities that supported Trump and the minority communities that feel threatened by Trump. Moderates and sane conservatives need to fight the Alt Right and regain control of the Republican Party. I think both fights are important for the health of our democratic republic.
U.S. Sen. Jeff Flake (R-Ariz.) took to the Senate floor on March 6, 2018 in an attempt to secure immediate passage of his bipartisan bill to provide a temporary solution for the thousands of DACA recipients facing potential deportation. The “three-for-three” proposal, introduced with U.S. Sen. Heidi Heitkamp (D-N.D.) on Feb. 27, would extend Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program protections for three years and provide $7.6 billion to fully fund the first three years of the administration’s border security proposal. While Flake’s effort was blocked through an objection, he stated his intention to return to the floor frequently until the Senate reaches a DACA deal.
On March 8, 2018 U.S. Sen. Jeff Flake (R-Ariz.) spoke on the Senate floor to introduce legislation to nullify tariffs on steel and aluminum announced by the White House.
On July 19, 2018, Senator Jeff Flake teamed up with Democratic Senator Chris Coons to push for a bipartisan resolution backing the intelligence community’s findings that Russia interfered in the 2016 election and must be held accountable
On September 13, 2018, U.S. Sen. Jeff Flake (R-Ariz.) called on the Republican Leadership to speak out against President’s attempts to politicize the Department of Justice
On June 7, 2018, U.S. Sen. Jeff Flake (R-Ariz.) today on the Senate floor in support of free trade and American global leadership. With the administration’s recent decision to impose steep tariffs on our trading partners, Flake encouraged Congress to take action and rein in protectionist policies that pose a threat to our nation’s prosperity.
On October 11, 2018, U.S. Sen. Jeff Flake (R-Ariz.), a member of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, delivered remarks on the Senate floor in defense of the free press. With the disappearance and apparent brutal murder of Saudi Arabian journalist Jamal Khashoggi, Flake again cautioned against the use of language that empowers authoritarian governments and oppressive regimes.