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Senate Republican Blocks Durbin Attempt to Confirm Critical Law Enforcement Positions

Senator Tom Cotton (R-AR) objects yet again to Durbin’s request to advance U.S. Attorney and U.S. Marshal nominees

WASHINGTON – U.S. Senate Majority Whip Dick Durbin (D-IL), Chair of the Senate Judiciary Committee, requested unanimous consent to approve the nominations of six U.S. Attorney (USA) nominees and two U.S. Marshal (USM) nominees.  USAs and USMs play a critical role in enforcing the law, promoting public safety, and protecting our communities.  Despite their eminent qualifications and support from other local law enforcement, U.S. Senator Tom Cotton (R-AR) objected to the unanimous consent request.

“These nominees are all highly qualified,” Durbin said. “The obvious question is: Why are they being held up?  Why are these dedicated men and women not yet in office, ready to tackle violent crime, which we know is a problem across America?  Why aren't they in office to prosecute fraud and terrorism?  Why aren't they there to protect families and children across America?  One reason: the junior Senator from Arkansas.”

Durbin continued, “How can you claim, as he does, to be tough on crime if you are blocking well-qualified law enforcement officials from serving…  We hear the complaint ‘oh they want to defund the police.’ Well you heard last night, when President Biden said ‘we need to fund the police’ and got a standing ovation from everybody.  This is a new approach: instead of defunding the police, this one Senator is going to stop law enforcement from even doing their job.”

Durbin additionally outlined the overwhelming support these nominees have, pointing to dozens of letters the Committee has received from police chiefs, attorneys general, prosecutors, and law enforcement organizations across the nation objecting to Cotton’s hold and urging the confirmation of these nominees.

Following Cotton’s objection, Durbin called out the Republican Party’s hypocrisy and unwillingness to take steps to combat violent crime.

“Right and moral?  Is it right and moral to deny law enforcement officials an opportunity to serve across the United States?”  Durbin asked.  “I listened carefully.  I was waiting for him to spell out – the Senator from Arkansas who just walked off the floor – his objection as to the qualifications of these law enforcement officers.  He has none.  There are none.”

Notably, this is not the first time Cotton has blocked the confirmation of law enforcement positions due to unrelated frustrations.  On February 16, Cotton objected to multiple requests to advance these nominees.  Two weeks prior, Cotton blocked a voice vote in Committee which delayed these nominees from reaching the floor for at least another week.

And in an April speech addressing the Judiciary Committee vote on the nomination of Vanita Gupta to be Associate Attorney General, Cotton promised to object to every USA nominee from “any state represented by a Democrat on the Judiciary Committee.”

Durbin concluded, “The Senator from Arkansas is blocking the confirmation of these individuals – and at the same time, calling the Democrats soft on law and order.  Go figure.  Don't lecture me on law and order if you are coming to the floor to prevent qualified law enforcement professionals from helping the Justice Department combat violent crime…  It doesn't take political courage to harm an innocent person.”

When Durbin attempted to continue debate, the junior Senator from Arkansas walked off the floor.

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 and U.S. Marshals 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. 

Today’s objection blocked the confirmation of Ryan K. Buchanan, to be United States Attorney for the Northern District of Georgia; Jason M. Frierson, to be United States Attorney for the District of Nevada; Andrew M. Luger, to be United States Attorney for the District of Minnesota; Mark A. Totten, to be United States Attorney for the Western District of Michigan; Marisa T. Darden, to be United States Attorney for the Northern District of Ohio; Delia L. Smith, to be United States Attorney for the District of the Virgin Islands; Eddie M. Frizell, to be United States Marshal for the District of Minnesota; and LaDon A. Reynolds, to be United States Marshal for the Northern District of Illinois.