Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Chuck Grassley canceled votes on 22 lifetime judicial nominations that had been scheduled for this week. The action comes as outgoing Sen. Jeff Flake, R-AZ, pledged to oppose all judicial nominations until there’s a scheduled Senate vote on a bill to protect special counsel Robert Mueller’s ongoing investigation.
The retiring Arizona senator is undermining the Senate GOP’s efforts to approve as many lifetime-appointed federal judges as possible in the lame duck. His vow to oppose all judges until he gets a vote shielding the special counsel from presidential interference has already frozen 21 judicial picks in committee and on Thursday helped derail a nominee on the Senate floor.
And GOP frustrations are boiling over at Flake, a Trump critic who is using the leverage possessed by an individual senator to advocate for his priorities. But so far McConnell has been unwilling to bend to Flake and give him a vote — which might not pass the Senate anyway, given the number of Republicans resistant to the Mueller bill or Flake’s hardball tactics….
“It is not productive,” said Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Texas), who has also been known to cause major headaches for McConnell. “One of the greatest substantive victories that we have delivered for the American people the last two years is nominating and confirming strong constitutionalist judges. For a Republican senator to be blocking that is frustrating the promises we made to the voters.”
Joshua Mercer is a co-founder of CatholicVote.org, where he serves as Political Director. Mercer previously served as Washington Correspondent for the National Catholic Register and Chairman for Students for Life of America. He lives in Michigan with his wife and six children.