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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 FlakeOn The Trail: Arizona is microcosm of battle for the GOP Trump looms large over fractured Arizona GOP Why Republican politicians are sticking with Trump MORE (R-Ariz.) over legislation protecting special counsel Robert MuellerRobert (Bob) MuellerSenate Democrats urge Garland not to fight court order to release Trump obstruction memo Why a special counsel is guaranteed if Biden chooses Yates, Cuomo or Jones as AG Barr taps attorney investigating Russia probe origins as special counsel 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 GrassleyChuck Grassley 64 percent of Iowans say 'time for someone else' to hold Grassley's Senate seat: poll Five takeaways on the Supreme Court's Obamacare decision On The Money: Yellen, Powell brush off inflation fears | Fed keeps rates steady, upgrades growth projections 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.