February 16, 2022

Senate Republican Blocks Durbin, Democrats' Attempts to Fill Critical Law Enforcement Positions

Senator Tom Cotton (R-AR) objects to multiple requests to confirm U.S. Attorney and U.S. Marshal nominees—again

WASHINGTON – U.S. Senate Majority Whip Dick Durbin (D-IL), Chair of the Senate Judiciary Committee, today 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 critical role in protecting our communities, U.S. Senator Tom Cotton (R-AR) objected to the unanimous consent request.

“Law enforcement is a team effort, and we need officials at the federal, state, and local level working together to stop crime in this country and to keep people safe,” Durbin said. “And when it's delayed—putting professionals in place—that delay can cost lives.  You can’t stand up and say, ‘I don't want to defund the police,’ and then refuse to fill vacancies when it comes to law enforcement.  That's inconsistent.”

Durbin continued, “Despite all the tough talk we hear from many of these Senators on the other side of the aisle about their dedication to law and order and keeping America safe, it is a Republican Senator who refuses to take up and confirm these nominations.”

Addressing Cotton’s objection, Durbin called out this obstruction for what it is: one member of the Republican caucus acting in retaliation because he was unsatisfied with a Department of Justice response on an unrelated matter. 

“Try to follow that logic, if you will:  The Senator is so committed to law enforcement, he is so committed to U.S. Marshals, he won't let us appoint people to fill [U.S. Marshal] vacancies,” Durbin said. “We can make all the statements, run all the ads, make all the speeches on the floor about a concern for safety in our communities—and then the junior Senator from Arkansas says, ‘I want you to be safe in your community, but you can't have a U.S. Attorney to prosecute those would-be terrorists, you can't have a U.S. Marshal in pursuit of fugitives from justice.’”

Notably, this is not the first time Cotton has pledged to block the confirmation of law enforcement positions due to unrelated frustrations.  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.”

Cotton and other Republican Senators have also failed to support commonsense safety measures to combat gun violence, a key player in violent crime; debated for weeks on whether to pay the expenses of the Capitol Police who protected this institution on January 6, 2021; and voted against the funding for local law enforcement in the American Rescue Plan.

Durbin concluded, “My Republican colleagues frequently claim to be [the] party of law and order, but in this matter and others they are the ones playing politics with law enforcement… If we're going to address this crisis, we're going to need Senators from both parties to show some courage and to admit that gun violence in America is a real problem.  We also need Republicans to stop defending the violent insurrection that took place right in this chamber on January 6, 2021…  I urge the Senator from Arkansas to stand up for law enforcement.  A political story on Fox is not worth undermining the lives of innocent Americans.”

Following Durbin’s request, Senators Chuck Schumer (D-NY), Amy Klobuchar (D-MN), Jacky Rosen (D-NV), Catherine Cortez Masto (D-NV), Tammy Duckworth (D-IL), and Sherrod Brown (D-OH) each urged Cotton to drop their objections to the USA and USM nominees in their states.  Cotton refused.

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.

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