Outgoing GOP Sen. Jeff Flake of Arizona is blocking votes on all of President Donald Trump’s appeals court nominees to secure concessions from Republican leaders on tariffs and Cuban travel restrictions.
Flake, a Trump antagonist who is not seeking reelection amid floundering popularity with Arizona Republicans, has not openly addressed the matter, though his seat on a closely divided Senate Judiciary Committee gives him significant leverage over judgeships.
Roll Call first reported that Flake halted a committee vote on Georgia Supreme Court Justice Britt Grant’s nomination to the 11th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals, the federal appeals court based in Atlanta. CNN confirmed late Wednesday that the senator will block all appeals court nominees to prompt discussions on relations with Cuba and the president’s escalating trade war with much of the industrial world.
Flake is one of 11 Republicans on the Senate Judiciary Committee, which issues recommendations on judicial nominees before a final confirmation vote. The GOP has a one-vote majority on the panel, making Flake’s cooperation essential if Republicans wish to process candidates.