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Washington • Sen. Mike Lee said Sunday that he doesn't envision a government shutdown if President Barack Obama uses his unilateral power to order changes to America's immigration system – but Lee also didn't rule out what response the GOP might use to halt Obama's pending action.

"I think we're not heading into a government shutdown," the Utah Republican said on CBS News' Face the Nation, noting that Obama could just wait and not act immediately.

"He can listen to the American people, or he can turn away from what the American people have said," Lee said, charging that 74 percent of those who voted in the recent midterm election opposed an executive order on immigration. "Even if [Obama] doesn't respect elections, he needs to respect the rule of law."

Senate Republican Leader Mitch McConnell, who will take over as majority leader in January, told reporters earlier in the week that his caucus would not try drastic measures during the lame-duck session before the GOP retakes control of the body.

"We will not be shutting down the government or threatening to default on the debt," McConnell said.

Asked by Face the Nation host Bob Schieffer about that comment, Lee agreed, though he noted that Republicans "stand ready" to respond to the moves Obama makes on immigration reform

"It's difficult to know how best we should respond when we don't know what he's going to do," Lee said.

While details are still unclear, the White House has signaled that Obama will use his executive authority to overhaul the immigration system, protecting up to 5 million immigrants in the country illegally from deportation as well as providing many of them work permits, The New York Times reported last week. Obama could make an announcement of his plan as early as this week.

While the Democrat-controlled Senate passed a comprehensive immigration reform bill this session — with support of Sen. Orrin Hatch, R-Utah, the GOP-led House refused to take up the measure.