For a Fourth Time, Junior Senator From Ohio Blocks Durbin's Attempt to Confirm U.S. Attorney Nominations on the Senate Floor

Once again, Senator J.D. Vance objected to Durbin’s request

WASHINGTON – U.S. Senate Majority Whip Dick Durbin (D-IL), Chair of the Senate Judiciary Committee, today on the Senate floor requested unanimous consent (UC) to schedule confirmation votes on two U.S. Attorney nominations being held by U.S. Senator J.D. Vance (R-OH)—Rebecca C. Lutzko, nominated to be United States Attorney for the Northern District of Ohio; and April M. Perry, nominated to be United States Attorney for the Northern District of Illinois.  U.S. Attorneys are empowered to prosecute all federal criminal offenses and are an integral part of our justice system.  Despite these nominees’ eminent qualifications, U.S. Senator J.D. Vance (R-OH) once again objected to the unanimous consent request.

Two weeks ago, Durbin attempted to confirm these two nominees, as well as Todd Gee, nominated to be United States Attorney for the Southern District of Mississippi; and Tara McGrath, nominated to be United States Attorney forthe Southern District of California, by UC, but Vance objected to that request.  Last week, Durbin requested to vote on all four nominees, which resulted in the eventual confirmation votes of Mr. Gee and Ms. McGrath.  But Vance reversed his position on scheduling votes for Ms. Lutzko and Ms. Perry.  Last Friday, Vance once again objected to Durbin’s UC request to schedule confirmation votes on these two U.S. Attorney nominations.

“Each time I’ve come to the floor to ask… Senator Vance of Ohio has come up with a different explanation for why he’s blocking their confirmation,” Durbin said.  “As I stated last week, for nearly 50 years, the Senate has confirmed U.S. Attorney nominees for both political parties by either a voice vote or unanimous consent after they’ve been reported by the Judiciary Committee.”

Durbin went on to call out the hypocrisy of Republicans’ “tough on crime” rhetoric and their inaction on the issue, including repeated refusals to confirm or move forward these U.S. Attorney nominees.

“Leader McConnell regularly comes to the floor to assert that Republicans are really tougher on crime than Democrats.  The obstacles that Senate Republicans have created to confirming federal prosecutors, and especially Senator Vance’s actions over the last two weeks, shows what an empty argument that is,” Durbin said.  “Senate Republicans are literally moving the goalposts in the Senate blocking the confirmation of law enforcement officers who lead our nation’s efforts to prosecute violent crime and protect our communities from drug traffickers, gun violence, terrorism, and so many other crimes.”

Durbin continued, “According to the Senator from Ohio, the junior Senator, the Justice Department has been ‘weaponized’—a favorite word of the right—simply because former President Trump has been indicted for multiple felonies.  So this is retribution.  In order to punish the Department of Justice for any part of it, prosecuting or indicting the former President, the Senator from Ohio wants to stop prosecutors, criminal prosecutors, from going to work in Chicago and Cleveland.”

Durbin concluded, “When one Senator can stop the appointment of a well-qualified individual with no questions asked about her ability to handle the job either in Cleveland or Chicago and to do that because he has a political grievance.  I hope I never get to that point, and I hope other members of the Senate will think twice.  We need a government that is effective and provides safety for the people that we are sent here to represent.   And having this snit over some political grievance and holding up the effective appointment of prosecutors to do their job is inappropriate and I will continue to come to the floor and plead the case for safety in the neighborhoods.  And before anyone else decides to come to the floor in the future on the Republican side and criticize crime in the city of Chicago, for goodness’ sakes, try to explain to the Senator from Ohio there is a connection between criminal prosecution and crime.”

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.

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 thisexercise 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 beconfirmed.