Sen. Jeff Flake has gone public with his threat to stall judicial nominations seeking action to rebuff President Donald Trump on tariffs.
It comes more than a week after the Arizona Republican first held up the nomination of Britt Grant to be a judge on the Atlanta-based 11th Circuit Court of Appeals at the Judiciary Committee.
“We’ve approved a number of judges. That is important,” Flake said Sunday. “But, Article I — the Congress, Article II — the executive, are important as well.”
“I do think that unless we can actually do something other than just approving the president’s executive calendar, his nominees, judges, that we have no reason to be there,” Flake said. “So, I think myself and a number of senators, at least a few of us will stand up and say let’s not move any more judges until we get a vote for example on tariffs.”
Flake was asked about his procedural maneuvering during an interview with George Stephanopoulos on ABC, during which he was more direct than he was with reporters last week. The senator had been particularly vague about the nature of his objections.
Likewise, his Senate office opted not to respond to media queries about Flake’s actions at the Judiciary Committee.
On Sunday, he described the actions of Trump and his administration as a “crisis.”
“I think in this crisis we’re in the judiciary has stood up well. The press has stood up well in terms of institutions that balance, but the Congress has been lacking,” Flake said.
He said trade policy that needed a congressional response, particularly with the president using national security provisions to impose tariffs on U.S. allies including Canada and Mexico, as well as NATO partners in Europe.
“The Senate ought to bring legislation to the floor that says hey, we’re going to push back here,” Flake said. “The European Union exporting cars to the U.S. does not represent a national security threat.”
Opening last Thursday’s weekly markup at the Judiciary Committee, Chairman Charles E. Grassley said the panel would continue to defer action on the Grant nomination.
“Britt Grant, nominated to the 11th Circuit, is on today’s agenda again, and we won’t be able to vote on her nomination today,” the Iowa Republican said. “We will hold her over for another week while Senator Flake works out his concerns with administration and the leader’s office on issues not related to Britt Grant’s nomination.”
The only other circuit seat on the agenda Thursday was the nomination of David Porter for the Philadelphia-based appeals court. Porter was appearing for the first time, and the nomination was being held over for the customary one week. Given Flake’s public statements on ABC, Porter will likely be stalled as well.