Republican Senator Mitch McConnell canceled the vote on President Trump’s nominee for the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals on Thursday upon realizing that there would not be a sufficient number of votes to support his nomination. The Hill reports that a vote was expected at 1:45 p.m. Thursday. McConnell appeared on the Senate floor about 2:30 p.m. and announced the nomination would be withdrawn.
With the absence of Senator John McCain, Republicans hold a slim 51-49 majority in the Senate. Due to some controversial comments made by Bounds in the early 1990s, he wasn’t expected to receive any votes from Democratic members of the Senate, so his successful nomination required the support of every Republican senator. Senator Tim Scott of South Carolina indicated on Thursday that he didn’t yet have enough information to decide whether or not he would vote for Bounds’ nomination.
“I was taking my time to go through all of the material. The information I had was insufficient for me to be a ‘yes’ vote,” he told reporters.
Florida Senator Marco Rubio had told Scott that he would also vote no on Bounds as a show of support for him. With two no votes from the Republicans, Bounds’ nomination would have failed. Mitch McConnell opted to cancel the vote and withdraw the nomination instead. A Republican source indicated that other Republicans had voiced concerns over the nomination as well and that with Scott and Rubio voting no, it would likely have “broke the dam” and encouraged them to also vote no.
“There was some objections raised… that couldn’t be resolved in the short time we had,” Senate Majority Whip John Cornyn of Texas said.
It’s believed that Scott’s concerns, and those of other senators, were related to “racially insensitive remarks” made by Bounds while he was a college student in the early 1990s. Scott wished to reach out to people who knew the nominee and had not had time to do so. He didn’t confirm this was the basis of his hesitancy. He did say that he had informed other Republicans during a closed-door lunch on Thursday that he didn’t have adequate information on Bounds to make a decision on how he would vote on his nomination.
Among the controversial comments made by Bounds was the following passage.
“I am mystified because these tactics seem always to contribute more to restricting consciousness, aggravating intolerance and pigeonholing cultural identities than many a Nazi bookburning.”
In another writing around the same time, he spoke about diversity training and described it as a “pestilence.” During his confirmation hearing, Bounds apologized for his “overheated” language.
Republican Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Chuck Grassley of Iowa said that Republicans on that committee had discussed concerns about the same issue with Bounds and were satisfied with his responses. Senator Scott is not on that committee.