Nov. 28 (UPI) -- The Senate Judiciary Committee won't vote Thursday on several judicial nominations because of a vow by outgoing Republican Sen. Jeff Flake to oppose the confirmations until the upper chamber considers protection for special counsel Robert Mueller.
Committee Chairman Sen. Chuck Grassley, R-Iowa, canceled decisions on six Circuit Court and 15 District Court picks by President Donald Trump. Grassley didn't specify when the committee votes would be would rescheduled, The Hill reported.
Flake, a member of the committee, has pledged to oppose all nominations until there is a vote on congressional protection of Mueller, who is investigating possible collusion beween Trump's campaign and Russia to interfere with the 2016 election.
Flake, who chose not to seek re-election for the Senate seat from Arizona, is a necessary vote for Republicans to advance nominations if all Democrats oppose them. The Republicans hold a 11-10 majority in the committee during the lame duck session.
"We can vote on all the people who cleared the committee," said Sen. John Cornyn of Texas, the No. 2 Republican senator and a member of the Judiciary Committee. "But in terms of getting a vote out of committee, we need his help."
Senate Republican Leader Mitch McConnell could bring nominees directly to the floor session even if they get an "unfavorable" recommendation in committee.
Republicans hold a 51-49 majority in the Senate, allowing them to move Trump's nominees despite opposition by Flake as long as the remaining 50 Republican senators remain united. In the case of a tie, Vice President Mike Pence can cast the decisive vote.
On Wednesday, Flake voted against the nomination of Thomas Far as District Court judge, forcing Pence to break a tie.
Flake, along with Democratic Sen. Chris Coons of Delaware, attempted to bring up the bill on the floor Wednesday but they were blocked by Republicans that oppose it. The resolution to protect Mueller from being removed by Trump passed the Judicuary Committee earlier this year. But it has stalled because of opposition from the Republican leadership.