Opinion: GOP should appease Sen. Flake with pointless Mueller bill
GOP Sen. Jeff Flake from Arizona has successfully blocked all of President Donald Trump’s judicial nominees.
Flake said this month that he would oppose all of President Trump’s nominees until a bill to protect special counsel Robert Mueller is passed. An effort to pass such a bill was killed Nov. 14. And Flake is sticking to his word.
In order for the Senate to confirm a justice to the federal bench, the judicial committee must first approve the nominee, and then the entire Senate must confirm them. While Republicans do have a majority in the Senate and could potentially approve a nominee from President Trump, the Senate judiciary committee needs to approve the nominee by a majority vote first.
Because Republicans have a one-man majority on the committee and Democrats will not approve any nominee, Republicans cannot afford to lose any GOP votes. Flake’s decision to join the Democrats effectively kills Republican chances to approve any future nominee.
Presumably based on Flake’s move, Sen. Charles Grassley (R-Iowa), head of the Senate Judicial committee, decided Wednesday to cancel all preliminary meetings to approve justices.
Grassley did not specify why he cancelled the meeting, but the Washington Times reported that there are six circuit court and 15 district court nominees who are expected to be voted on. Grassley did say Wednesday that if he was unable to work out a deal with Flake, he would “probably cancel the meeting.”
Flake has caused a lot of problems for President Trump and the Republicans. Democrats have previously tried to tie the next spending bill to a bill that forbids President Trump from firing Mueller. McConnell refused that request.
“I don’t think any legislation is necessary,” McConnell said Nov. 18. “We know how the president feels about the Mueller investigation, but he’s never said he wants to shut it down.”
The Republicans and President Trump should work together to appease Flake. If the decision comes down to passing a useless bill in order to ensure over 20 justices are confirmed to the federal bench, the Republicans would be wise to make that happen.