Durbin Calls Out Senate Republicans' Hypocrisy on Crime

WASHINGTON – Today, U.S. Senate Majority Whip Dick Durbin (D-IL), Chair of the Senate Judiciary Committee, took to the Senate floor to accentuate the stark contrast between Republicans’ “tough on crime” rhetoric and their inaction on the issue, including repeated refusals to act on further gun safety reform or U.S. Attorney nominees.

Durbin began by highlighting Republicans’ infatuation with citing crime statistics in Chicago with neither nuance nor proposed solutions.

“Mr. President, it is my honor to represent the state of Illinois and the city of Chicago. I cannot tell you how many times members of the Senate and the House in the other party have gone to the microphones to condemn the city of Chicago and its crime rate,” said Durbin. “Let me tell you point-blank: there's too much crime in the city of Chicago, but it is not the only city in America that suffers from that problem. Cities large and small have problems every single day with violent gun crime.”

Durbin then turned to concrete solutions offered by Democrats to curb violent crime, rather than the platitudes offered by Republicans.

On interstate firearms trafficking, Durbin said: “We have to do everything we can to deal with it. Let me tell you what ‘everything we can’ means. It means we have to look at the flood of guns coming into these cities from out of state primarily, without background checks, that are getting into the hands of criminals who are turning around and killing innocent people. To ignore this flood of guns in the United States of America and condemn crime is to basically take a position that you’re not going to take a look at reality. That's what we're faced with.”

On background checks for firearms purchases, Durbin said, “We have to have a sensible policy when it comes to universal background checks to make sure guns are not ending up in the hands of people that will misuse them. When they confiscate thousands of guns every year, which they do in Chicago, they find that they come from the surrounding states, which have lax laws, if any, when it comes to checking the background of purchasers. … [But] if you raise that issue on the floor of the United States Senate, you'll have the whole other side of the aisle come here and wave their arms about ‘Second Amendment rights.’”

On Senator J.D. Vance’s hold on U.S. Attorney nominees, Durbin said, “If you want to stop crime in the streets of Chicago or any city – Cleveland or Chicago, for example – one of the first things you need is a competent, aggressive criminal prosecutor, a person known as a United States Attorney, who works as part of the 85 U.S. Attorneys across the United States enforcing the strong federal laws which we have enacted. So why don't we have a U.S. Attorney in the city of Chicago? Why don't we have a U.S. Attorney in the city of Cleveland? Because [of] the objections of one Republican Senator, who's come to the floor over and over again to stop these appointments from taking place.”

Durbin concluded: “So, you can give all the speeches you want on the floor … about how we've got to end crime in the city of Chicago, but do me a favor. Speak to this one Senator and convince him that a competent, aggressive criminal prosecutor as U.S. Attorney in the city of Chicago is one step toward that goal.”

Video of Durbin’s remarks on the Senate floor is available here.

Audio of Durbin’s remarks on the Senate floor is available here.

Footage of Durbin’s remarks on the Senate floor is available here for TV Stations.

In recent weeks, Durbin has gone to the Senate floor three times to request unanimous consent to either confirm or schedule votes on U.S. Attorney nominees. For decades, the Senate has confirmed U.S. Attorneys by voice vote or unanimous consent after they have been considered in the Judiciary Committee. Before the 117th Congress, the last time the Senate required a roll call vote on confirmation of a U.S. Attorney nominee was 1975. During the Trump Administration, 85 of President Trump’s U.S. Attorney nominees moved through the Judiciary Committee—of those 85, the Senate confirmed all by unanimous consent.

That precedent changed last Congress when Durbin went through this exercise twice when a Republican colleague refused to allow the Senate to confirm nearly a dozen Justice Department nominees by voice vote—the typical practice. Following one of Durbin’s unanimous consent requests, that Senator eventually lifted his objections and allowed those nominees to be confirmed.