Vote on Confirming Thomas Farr Delayed, Demonstrating Low Margin of Error for Support

Unexpected absence of one GOP senator punts contentious nomination for now

Sen. Tim Scott, R-S.C., is among the senators who have concerns with the nomination of Thomas Farr to the federal bench. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call file photo)

Despite Senate Republicans’ hopes they would fill it this week, the nation’s oldest judicial vacancy will get a little older after they push consideration of Thomas Farr to be a district judge in North Carolina until next week. The delay also highlighted the degree of opposition to Farr, because it was necessary due to the unexpected absence of one GOP senator.

Senate Majority Whip John Cornyn said Thursday a final vote on the nomination of Thomas Farr to be a federal judge in the Eastern District of North Carolina was postponed because Sen. James M. Inhofe had a death in the family. An aide later clarified it was a family emergency. 

Cornyn added that Republicans are also still talking with South Carolina Sen. Tim Scott about concerns he has with the nominee.

“We’re still talking to Sen. Scott. He’s got legitimate concerns that we’re trying to resolve. I’m optimistic we can, but it remains to be seen,” Cornyn said.

The absence of Inhofe and the delay suggests Republicans were not confident they had enough support to confirm Farr on Thursday. 

On Wednesday, Scott voted to cut off debate on the Farr nomination, which, with the opposition of Arizona GOP Sen. Jeff Flake and all Democrats, left a 50-50 tie that Vice President Mike Pence broke in favor of the nominee. Scott did not commit to voting to confirm Farr. 

Senate Minority Leader Charles E. Schumer and other Democrats, as well as black lawmakers and civil rights groups, want to keep Farr from the bench.

Among other criticisms, they point to how the Raleigh-based lawyer, who is white, defended in court North Carolina’s voting laws that judges later struck down as discriminatory for targeting minorities “with almost surgical precision.”

Flake’s opposition is a follow-through on his threat to vote against all judicial nominees until Senate GOP leaders bring to the floor a measure shielding special counsel Robert S. Mueller III from inappropriate dismissal. 

Niels Lesniewski, Jennifer Shutt and Todd Ruger contributed to this story.

Watch: Watch: Attempt to Force Vote on Mueller Protection Bill Rejected by GOP

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