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Senator Jeff Flake won't make an ultimatum on DACA and tax bill

Posted at 12:45 PM, Dec 08, 2017
and last updated 2017-12-08 19:53:53-05

In a video posted to Twitter Thursday night, Arizona Senator Jeff Flake appears on an airplane discussing the controversial tax reform bill and explaining why he won't force an ultimatum on a program for immigrant youth.

The other man in the video is Ady Barkan. He had ALS and works with the Center for Popular Democracy, a progressive group fighting for a pro-worker, pro-immigrant, racial and economic justice agenda. Twitter posts indicate he invited Flake to come to his seat on the plane for the discussion.

Barkan urges Flake, a Republican, to torpedo the tax reform bill, which has yet to come to a final vote. Flake earlier expressed concerns about the bill's impact on the deficit and the fact tax breaks for middle-class families would last five years.  

"I need you to make your votes match your principles, Senator," Barkan said, "and for the rest of your life, you will be proud if you vote this bill down." 

Barkan asked Flake about reports indicating he exchanged the tax reform bill vote for the promise of a legislative fix to reinstate DACA, Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals. DACA gave young immigrants a legal right to work and live in the United State, and recipients will start losing their legal status in March.

"Whatever we do, we have to protect those kids," Flake said.

"You have to withhold your vote," Barkan replied.

Flake said he's been talking to the White House and a bipartisan group in Congress about DACA, but he stopped short of making any promises.  

"I am not going to say publicly this is my ultimatum on this or that," Flake said. The senator made several indications that he was aware he was being recorded.

Flake said told the man he already negotiated an extension to the middle-class tax breaks in exchange for his tax break vote.

As the conversation winds down, Barkan urges Flake, "This is your moment to be an American hero."

Flake responded to Ady on Twitter, saying: "I enjoyed the conversation, Ady. We won’t always agree, by I admire your courage and knowledgeable advocacy."