Senate panel delays Trump’s judicial picks amid Mueller standoff

The Senate Judiciary Committee is postponing votes on nearly two dozen judiciary nominees for the second time in as many weeks.  

The decision to punt the business meeting again comes as Republicans are locked in a stalemate with Sen. Jeff FlakeJeffrey (Jeff) Lane FlakeTrump suggests Heller lost reelection bid because he was 'hostile' during 2016 presidential campaign Live coverage: Trump delivers State of the Union Sasse’s jabs at Trump spark talk of primary challenger MORE (R-Ariz.) over legislation protecting special counsel Robert MuellerRobert Swan MuellerSasse: US should applaud choice of Mueller to lead Russia probe MORE.

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Flake is voting against all judicial nominees until he gets a vote on the bill, which would let Mueller, or any special counsel, challenge the firing and be reinstated if a court determined it wasn’t for “good cause.”

With Republicans holding an 11-10 majority on the Judiciary Committee, Flake’s "no" vote effectively blocks the party from sending judicial nominees to the full Senate unless they can win over help from Democrats.

Flake indicated on Wednesday that he had not yet reached a deal with GOP leadership. 

“We can have the markup, I’ll just vote 'no,'” he quipped.

The notification from the Judiciary Committee didn't specify when, or if, the committee votes on the nominations would be rescheduled. Six circuit court nominees had been expected to get a vote, as well as 15 district court nominees.

The nominations were expected to get a vote last week, but committee Chairman Chuck GrassleyCharles (Chuck) Ernest GrassleyHigh stakes as Trump, Dems open drug price talks Senate approves border bill that prevents shutdown Grassley raises voice after McConnell interrupts Senate speech MORE (R-Iowa) canceled the meeting after indicating that his staff was trying to work out a deal with Flake.

“If we don't get a positive out of it, we'll probably cancel the meeting,” Grassley said last week shortly before he canceled the meeting. 

Updated at 4:05 p.m.