Junior Senator from Ohio Continues to Block 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.

In September, 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 for the Southern District of California, by UC, but Vance objected to that request.  Durbin then 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.  Vance continues to object to Durbin’s UC requests to schedule confirmation votes on these two qualified U.S. Attorney nominees. 

“On several previous occasions, I’ve had to come to the floor to request unanimous consent for the Senate to take up these noncontroversial, bipartisan nominations and confirm these law enforcement nominees.  Each time I’ve come to the floor asking for this, the junior Senator from Ohio has objected,” Durbin said.  “He says that he ran foroffice to fight the criminals and not the cops.  It turns out to be a hollow promise when he’s holding up criminal prosecutors at a professional level in two major parts of the United States—one of them his own state.”

Durbin went on to call out the hypocrisy of Vance’s “tough on crime” rhetoric while simultaneously blocking the confirmations of federal prosecutors, including the U.S. Attorney for the Northern District of Ohio.

“Our communities desperately need top federal prosecutors in place.  Interested in stopping fentanyl?  I am.  Thousands of people are dying.  Who’s going to prosecute those cases?  The U.S. Attorneys—93 of them across the United States.  But you can’t prosecute the case if you don’t have the U.S. Attorney there to lead the effort, coordinate the effort with other branches of government,” Durbin said.  “Here we have two that have been chosen by the junior Senator from Ohio to stop, one from his own state.”

Durbin continued, “U.S. Attorneys lead the nation’s efforts to prosecute violate criminals and protect our communities from violence, terrorism, and more.  The U.S. Attorney for the Northern District of Ohio is no exception.  While the entire nation has been impacted by the opioid epidemic, Ohio has been hit harder than almost any other state.  Over the course of one year, from April 2022 to April 2023, more than 5,000 Ohioans lost their lives to drug overdoses.  That number is shocking.  5,000 in one year.  On average, every day 14 Ohio families lose a loved one to drugs.”

Durbin concluded, “The U.S. Attorney for the Northern District of Ohio could, as we speak, be tackling this drug crisis with community stakeholders like the Toledo Metro Drug Traffic Force.  Instead, her nomination has been languishing on the calendar here in the Senate for months because one Senator, the junior Senator from Ohio, has promised, I guess, the former President, Donald Trump, that he would do his best to get even with the Department of Justice for even considering holding Donald Trump responsible for his conduct.  It would be laughable if it weren’t so damned dangerous.  Because Senator Vance is not just harming my state and he’s not just harming his own state, the precedent he’s setting will undermine public safety across the entire nation for years to come.”

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 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.