Senate GOP discussing Mueller vote

Senate Republicans at a closed-door lunch Thursday discussed how to solve an interparty conflict that has stalled the GOP's top priority: judicial nominations. 

Outgoing Sen. Jeff FlakeJeffrey (Jeff) Lane FlakeFormer GOP lawmaker: Republican Party 'engulfed in lies and fear' Grassley to vote against Tanden nomination Klain on Manchin's objection to Neera Tanden: He 'doesn't answer to us at the White House' MORE (R-Ariz.) is opposing judicial nominations until there is a vote on legislation that would protect special counsel Robert MuellerRobert (Bob) MuellerWhy a special counsel is guaranteed if Biden chooses Yates, Cuomo or Jones as AG Barr taps attorney investigating Russia probe origins as special counsel CNN's Toobin warns McCabe is in 'perilous condition' with emboldened Trump MORE from being fired, and give him legal recourse if he is.

"We're trying to figure out how to deal with that. No decision made, but that was a subject of discussion at lunch to try to figure out how to break that impasse and, like I said, no resolution yet," Cornyn said, asked if the special counsel legislation could get a vote in light of Flake's maneuvers. 
One potential option floated during the lunch, according to Cornyn, would be to take a nonbinding "sense of the Senate" vote that would put lawmakers on the record. 
"Somebody mentioned a possible sense of the Senate resolution, since there were objections raised on the constitutionality of such a bill and objections raised on the improbability that the House would ever pass it and the president would ever sign it," Cornyn said, referring to the special counsel legislation. 
Flake's procedural tactics are problematic for Republicans because they hold only a one-seat majority on the Judiciary Committee, where many controversial appellate nominees pass along party lines. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnellAddison (Mitch) Mitchell McConnellDemocrats near pressure point on nixing filibuster  We need a voting rights workaround Biden takes victory lap after Senate passes coronavirus relief package MORE (R-Ky.) has more room to maneuver in the full Senate. With a 51-49 GOP majority, Flake would need to convince a second Republican and every Democrat to vote against a nominee.  
Flake confirmed Thursday that his tactics and demand for a vote were discussed during the closed-door caucus lunch. 
Asked if Republican members were unhappy that he is playing procedural hardball, he quipped: "That's a safe assumption." 
Several Republican senators have backed holding a vote on the Mueller legislation, but so far Flake hasn't won over a second Republican to help him block judicial nominees on the Senate floor. 
"I'm continuing to work with leadership and make the case for bringing it to the floor, which I think only gets stronger with each passing day. And I also think that we can continue to try to bring it to the floor," she said.
The Senate Judiciary Committee passed legislation to protect Mueller, or any other special counsel, in the event he is fired, but the bill has stalled amid opposition from GOP leadership.

The bill would codify Justice Department regulations that say only a senior Justice Department official can fire Mueller or another special counsel.


It would give a special counsel an "expedited review" of their firing. If a court determines that it wasn't for "good cause," the special counsel would be reinstated.

GOP Sen. Linsey Graham (S.C.), who helped craft the bill, predicted that Flake's tactics made it likely they would get some sort of vote. 

"I wouldn't be surprised if there is one," he said, "I'd be okay with one."