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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.

Last month, 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.  A few weeks ago, Vance objected to Durbin’s UC request to schedule confirmation votes on these two U.S. Attorney nominations for a third and fourth time.  And last week, Vance objected to Durbin’s request for a fifth time.

“On five previous occasions, I’ve come to the floor of the Senate to request unanimous consent to move these nominees forward.  Each time, the junior Senator from Ohio has objected,” said Durbin.  “He campaigned for the Senate claiming he would be ‘tough on crime,’ but now that he’s here, he proudly brags that he wants to ‘grind the Department of Justice to a halt.’  These communities desperately need these nominees in place.”

Durbin went on to call out the hypocrisy of Vance’s “tough on crime” rhetoric when he’s holding up these nominees, including the U.S. Attorney for the Northern District of Ohio.

“How important is the U.S. Attorney’s office for the Northern District of Ohio that he is holding up?  The entire nation has been impacted by the opioid epidemic, but Ohio has been especially hard hit,” Durbin said.  “In recent years, fentanyl has been involved in 80 percent of unintentional drug overdose deaths within the state of Ohio.  Last year, federal law enforcement officials and local partners in Ohio seized over 87,000 fentanyl-laden tablets in a span of less than four months.  Over the course of one year, from April 2022 to April 2023, more than 5,000 Ohioans lost their lives to drug overdoses.  Five thousand.  Let that sink in.  On average, every day 14 Ohio families lose a loved one to drugs.  How important is it to have is a U.S. Attorney in Ohio and in Illinois working on this drug crisis that claims so many lives every single day?  Can we really make an excuse that we have some political petulance at work on the floor of the Senate that stops us from putting a prosecutor in place to stop this drug trafficking?”

Durbin continued, “You can be upset, petulant, worried, hate it that a friend of yours in politics has been indicted, but to hold that up against the people of Ohio and the families [of individuals] that are dying on such a regular basis from these narcotics, that is shortsighted.  That does not really reach the level that we as Senators should aspire to.”

Durbin concluded, “How can you explain to the people of Ohio and Illinois that you’re trying to get some way to make it even on political grounds at their expense? For goodness sakes, for the sake of your families in your own home state, give these U.S. Attorneys a chance to fight to make life safer for these families.”

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.