Jeff Flake

Sen. Jon Kyl Will Resign at the End of the Year
Arizona governor will have opportunity to appoint new senator

Sen. Jon Kyl is expected to retire from the Senate again, effective Dec. 31. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)

Arizona Sen. Jon Kyl is expected to retire from the Senate at the end of the month.

The Republican senator returned to the chamber in September after Gov. Doug Ducey appointed him to replace the late Sen. John McCain. He previously served three terms in the Senate from 1995 to 2013. 

Grassley Urges McConnell to Take Up Criminal Justice Bill
Judges can wait, Judiciary chairman says

Sen. Chuck Grassley, R-Iowa, speaks with staff before the start of the Senate Judiciary Committee markup hearing in the Dirksen Building on Nov. 15. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call file photo)

Senate Judiciary Chairman Charles E. Grassley again implored Majority Leader Mitch McConnell to get a criminal overhaul through the Senate before the end of the year.

It should be OK if fewer of President Donald Trump’s judicial nominations get confirmed as a result, Grassley said, especially with the GOP holding the Senate.

Thomas Farr Nomination Likely Sunk After Tim Scott Announces Opposition
Senate had delayed confirmation vote until next week

Sen. Tim Scott, R-S.C., announced his opposition to Thomas Farr’s nomination. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call file photo)

Sen. Tim Scott has announced his opposition to the nomination of Thomas Farr to a federal judgeship in North Carolina, potentially dooming his confirmation.

“I am ready and willing to support strong candidates for our judicial vacancies that do not have lingering concerns about issues that could affect their decision-making process as a federal judge,” Scott said in a statement reported by The State newspaper. “This week, a Department of Justice memo written under President George H.W. Bush was released that shed new light on Mr. Farr’s activities. This, in turn, created more concerns. Weighing these important factors, this afternoon I concluded that I could not support Mr. Farr’s nomination.”

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. 

On Chaotic Wednesday, Senators Hunt for an Endgame
Yemen resolution, contentious nominees complicate escape plans

Sen. Jeff Flake, R-Ariz., arrives Wednesday for a briefing for all senators with Defense Secretary James Mattis and Secretary of State Mike Pompeo on the U.S. relationship with Saudi Arabia. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call)

Wednesday was not a typical day in the Senate.

On an average Senate day, the visceral, negative response from senators to a closed briefing on U.S. policy on Saudi Arabia might have dominated headlines.

Criminal Justice Supporters Press Case for Floor Time
Mike Pence and Jared Kushner joined Senate GOP lunch on Tuesday

Vice President Mike Pence, left, and White House senior adviser Jared Kushner make their way to the Senate Republican policy lunch in the Capitol on Tuesday. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call)

Vice President Mike Pence had a guest with him at Tuesday’s Senate Republican lunch: White House adviser and presidential son-in-law Jared Kushner. It was a sign the Trump administration is leaning on GOP leaders to schedule floor time for a key priority — overhauling the criminal justice system.

Kushner has been helping to lead the administration’s advocacy for a criminal justice overhaul bill that supporters are trying to cajole Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell to put on the floor before the end of the lame-duck session of Congress.

Racial Concerns Fuel Opposition to Judicial Nominee
Thomas Farr under scrutiny for issues traced back to North Carolina politics

Sens. Richard M. Burr, R-N.C., right, and Thom Tillis, R-N.C., support the nomination of Thomas Farr to the federal bench, but Farr’s work in the Tar Heel State on voting issues has attracted opposition. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call file photo)

To grasp how the long partisan war over the Senate’s judicial confirmation process shapes the nation’s legal landscape, look no further than this week’s floor vote on Thomas Farr to sit on a federal district court in North Carolina.

If confirmed — something that appears uncertain in a narrowly divided Senate — Farr would fill the oldest judicial vacancy in the country in a part of North Carolina with a significant black population. The Eastern District of North Carolina seat has been open for nearly 13 years — and three presidents — because of the Tar Heel State’s contentious politics and the way senators have used traditions to block nominees.

Cornyn Says Flake Might Get Mueller Protection Vote to Get More Judges Confirmed
Republican whip opened door to a floor vote as part of a deal, even though he opposes the bill

The Senate might need to vote on legislation to protect Special Counsel Robert S. Mueller III if it hopes to get judicial nominations through committee. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call file photo)

Senate Majority Whip John Cornyn said Tuesday there’s a chance the Senate will actually vote on legislation designed to protect Special Counsel Robert S. Mueller III.

The Republican from Texas suggested that may be the price paid in order to get an agreement with retiring Republican Sen. Jeff Flake of Arizona to let more of President Donald Trump’s judicial nominations through the Judiciary Committee.

Trump Slams 9th Circuit as a ‘Disgrace,’ Intends to File ‘Major Complaint’
President also defends daughter Ivanka Trump over email use

President Donald Trump says he plans to file a “major complaint” against the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals. (Sarah Silbiger/CQ Roll Call file photo)

President Donald Trump on Tuesday called the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals a “disgrace,” saying he intends to file a “major complaint” against it for a ruling against his attempts to cease asylum grants to migrants.

Without providing specific potential moves, he told reporters on the South Lawn that the country must “look at” the 9th Circuit because other countries take cases against the U.S. there for an “automatic win.”

Senate Appropriators Cast Doubt on Mueller Protections Making It Into Spending Deal
Chairman wants to keep December spending deal as clean as possible, despite interests of Pelosi, House Democrats

Sen. Richard C. Shelby, R-Ala., does not favor attaching protections for Special Counsel Robert S. Mueller III to a December spending package. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call file photo)

Senate Appropriations Chairman Richard C. Shelby thinks trying to attach language designed to shield Special Counsel Robert S. Mueller III to a big December spending package would be ill-advised.

Asked ahead of a meeting at the White House with President Donald Trump about the interest of House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi to use the must-pass spending measure as the vehicle for such a bill, Shelby said, “She’s not talking about putting it in an appropriations bill?”