Senate Majority Leader John Cornyn told CNN on Tuesday that Republican Party leaders are whipping the Mueller bill to see where the votes are.
"We are beating the bill to see where the people are, to give us an idea of what the outcome would be," he said. It is likely to fail, as it is almost certain that 60 votes will be needed for approval and most Republicans oppose it, either saying it is unnecessary or arguing that it is unconstitutional. Republicans control 51 seats to the 49 Democrats.
Cornyn said he strongly opposes Mueller's bill, but Republican Party leaders can allow the bill to get a vote for Flake to reject his opposition to all judicial nominations until there is a vote on the bill. of Mueller.
This could have an immediate impact, since the vote of the federal candidate for President Donald Trump, Thomas Farr, is expected by the end of this week and is also expected to be very thin. If the Republican Party leaders can get Flake on board, that would increase the margin if any other Republican votes against Farr. When asked about Farr's nomination last Tuesday, South Carolina Republican Senator Tim Scott, whose opposition to specific Trump nominees has led to at least one nomination, said he is "doing my homework" .
Senate Democrats are pressing this week to defeat Farr's nomination to be a district judge in North Carolina. They say he is opposed to him because he worked on the controversial voter identification laws of that state and on the Jesse Helms campaign in 1990 that was accused of sending deceptive emails to African-Americans.
"All Americans should be alarmed at the attempt to confirm a candidate with Farr's historic record of voting rights, particularly with the Republican agenda to maintain power by limiting access to the ballot now on display," said the leader. the Democratic minority in the Senate, Chuck Schumer, in a statement. Monday statement.
Flake on Tuesday would not commit to endorse Farr's nomination if the special lawyer's bill is put to the vote, saying he would consider it "on the merits."
He also said he rejected offers from Republican Party leaders to vote a non-binding resolution or something to prove that the votes are not there to pass the measure. But he said that if the Senate rejects Mueller's bill, the fight essentially ends, a sign that he will not demand that it be added to a bill to keep the government open.
"If it fails, that's it, I can not require a ticket," Flake told CNN. "What I can demand is that it be put to the vote."
In July, the White House withdrew the nomination of Circuit Court nominee Ryan Bounds, moments before the nominee faces his confirmation vote in the Senate following Scott's decision to raise concerns with Senate leaders. Scott's concerns revolved around the content of Bounds' writings, which critics rated as racially insensitive, while at Stanford and the fact that Bounds did not disclose the writings to a bipartisan committee of lawyers in Oregon that had recommended him to the post of Ninth Circuit.
"The president has said he will not go ahead with the special council, but that's not enough," Flake said in the Senate on Nov. 14. "And maybe that's what consoles the leader of the majority … But he does not do it.
Jeremy Herb of CNN, Phil Mattingly and Ariane de Vogue contributed to this report.