Sen. Jeff Flake announced Wednesday that he will not vote to advance any new judicial nominees through the Judiciary Committee, nor will he vote to confirm picks on the Senate floor, until he gets his way on unrelated legislation to prevent the firing of special counsel Robert Mueller.
Mr. Flake made the announcement on the Senate floor minutes after his bid to pass the bill failed.
His threat could block the committee from approving any more judges this year, since the GOP only holds a one-seat majority on the panel.
It’s less catastrophic to approving judges on the Senate floor, where the GOP holds 51 seats. Even losing Mr. Flake, Republicans could still approve judges on a 50-50 vote with Vice President Mike Pence breaking the tie.
Still, the senator’s move was a major escalation in the battle over Mr. Mueller, who is investigating the 2016 election, Russian interference and Trump campaign figures’ behavior.
Mr. Flake and Sen. Chris Coons tried to get the Senate to pass a bill that would have prevented Mr. Mueller from being fired without good cause.