Sen. Jeff Flake of Arizona gets a lot of credit for frowning at various things Donald Trump does and then ultimately voting for his policies anyway, but as of right now, it appears that he might actually do something useful for a change!
According to CNN, Flake is warning the Trump administration that he may start blocking the Trump administration’s appellate court nominees until the administration moves to ease travel restrictions to Cuba and tariffs. The Senate Judiciary Committee has 11 Republicans and ten Democrats, so if Flake votes with Democrats, it could throw a wrench in the administration’s plans to get them out of committee.
Sen. Chuck Grassley, an Iowa Republican who chairs the committee, told CNN that he’s not going to bring the nominees forward until Flake gets movement on either issue. “If it is a controversial one, we probably would have to have all 11 Republicans. So if one Republican wouldn’t vote, and it’s 10 to 10, then we’re not going to take it up,” he told CNN.
Grassley, however, said he probably would wait until September to bring any more forward anyway, and Flake is retiring from the Senate this year, so his options are limited by time. But Trump has already gotten twenty-one federal appeals court judges confirmed, eleven of which are younger than 50, so anything that slows the process down could have a real impact.
Of course, Flake has made threats to obstruct Trump before, only to cave with very little to show in the way of concessions. But Democrats are predictably pretty happy about this new development.
“Senators are supposed to be making independent decisions about the suitability of any nominee for a lifetime appointment, “ Kristine Lucius, a former Democratic staffer on the committee who now serves as an executive vice president for the Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights, told CNN. “There would be nothing inappropriate for a senator to start weighing those decisions more carefully.”