Senate Republican Once Again Blocks Durbin's Attempt to Confirm U.S. Attorney Nominations on the Senate Floor
Senator J.D. Vance objected to Durbin’s request again
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 confirm the U.S. Attorney nominations being held by U.S. Senator J.D. Vance (R-OH)—Todd Gee, nominated to be United States Attorney for the Southern District of Mississippi; Tara K. McGrath, nominated to be United States Attorney for the Southern District of California; 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 the nominees’ eminent qualifications, U.S. Senator J.D. Vance (R-OH) once again objected to Durbin’s unanimous consent request to confirm these nominees. Vance agreed to release his holds on the nominations of Todd Gee and Tara McGrath, but only on the condition that they receive roll call votes on the Senate floor, a stark departure from the longstanding bipartisan tradition of confirming U.S. Attorney nominees by voice vote. Last week, Durbin attempted to confirm these nominees by UC, but Senator Vance objected to that request.
“I rise today to speak about the critical role that U.S. Attorneys play in keeping America safe from the scourge of drugs—like opioids, fentanyl—gun violence, and violent crime. Why are we on the floor? We’re on the floor because one Senator has decided to stop the appointment of the United States Attorneys for the Department of Justice across the United States,” Durbin said. “The Senator from Ohio has decided he’s upset with the Department of Justice. How upset is he? Here’s what he said. ‘I will hold all Department of Justice nominations.’ Listen to this. ‘We will grind the Justice Department to a halt.’… Don’t stand up and say you’re for law and order, you’re for law enforcement, and then turn around and stop the appointment of U.S. Attorneys who prosecute the criminals who are responsible for the narcotic sales.”
Durbin also emphasized that the Northern District of Ohio desperately needs its U.S. Attorney in place. In the last year, Ohio had 5,155 drug overdose deaths—the fourth-highest number of overdose deaths in the nation. In Cleveland, the largest city in the Northern District of Ohio, the number of homicides is up by 30 percent compared to last year. Nearly 90 percent of overall homicides in Cleveland this year have involved a firearm, and the city has seen a 99 percent increase in vehicle grand theft so far in 2023.
“Rebecca Lutzko… [nominated to be] U.S. Attorney for the Northern District of Ohio… So you have a vacancy in the U.S. Attorney’s office. The Senator from Ohio approves the person to fill the vacancy and then stops her nomination on the floor of the United States Senate. I can’t follow his logic unless you’re determined to ‘grind the Department of Justice to a halt,’ even at the expense of the people you represent, the people you were sent here to protect,” Durbin said. “Don’t tell me you’re for law and order in your own neighborhood when you stop the nomination of a U.S. Attorney with no controversy. It makes no sense.”
Durbin concluded, “U.S. Attorneys are an integral part of our justice system. Overseeing important operations that help protect our communities. They’re empowered to prosecute all federal criminal offenses. They play a critical role in enforcing the law.”
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 twicewhen 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.
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