Skip to content

Senate Republican Blocks Durbin’s Attempt to Confirm U.S. Attorney Nominations on the Senate Floor

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 confirm the four 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 their eminent qualifications, U.S. Senator J.D. Vance (R-OH) objected to the unanimous consent request.

“In short, one Senator is making it more difficult for us to put women and men in the position of U.S. Attorney for the prosecution of violent criminals, tracking down fugitives, and protecting Americans from gang violence, cybercrime, terrorism, narcotics, and fraud,” Durbin said.  “Blocking the confirmations of U.S. Attorneys threatens public safety and puts many Americans and their families, including the most vulnerable among us, at greater risk.  Why would we knowingly want to put our families that we represent in states across America at greater risk by holding up the appointment of U.S. Attorneys?  We’ve heard a lot of tough talk about ‘law and order’ from a lot of Senators, but when it comes to ‘law and order,’ we shouldn’t allow one Senator to prevent us from confirming well-qualified law enforcement nominations today.  This Senator has vowed, and I quote, ‘to grind the Department of Justice to a halt.’”

Durbin continued, “And all of this because of why?  He’s upset that Special Counsel Jack Smith has indicted the former President of the United States on multiple felonies.  This is a protest, a political protest for an action taken by a Special Counsel, but he’s doing it at the expense of families all across America.  Let me repeat: a member of this body is undermining our government’s efforts to prosecute violent crime, terrorism, and crimes against children because he does not like it that one of his political allies is being held accountable for his actions.  He’s doing so despite the fact that these are exceptional, exceptional nominees for U.S. Attorneys, and there is simply no principled basis to delay their confirmation.”

Durbin went on to highlight the records of these exceptional nominees, including April Perry, nominated to be U.S. Attorney for the Northern District of Illinois.

“[She has] significant experience in the private sector and as a federal prosecutor.  She attended Northwestern University and the Northwestern Law School and then clerked on the Seventh Circuit Court of Appeals.  Then she served as federal prosecutor in the Northern District of Illinois for over a decade where she handled narcotics, gang violence, public corruption, and fraud cases.  Notably, Ms. Perry specialized in child exploitation prosecutions… As an Assistant U.S. Attorney, she investigated a former police officer who was convicted of raping a person he had arrested, and she secured the conviction of a former priest who was accused of sexually abusing more than 20 children,” Durbin said.  “She has the qualifications and leadership abilities to serve as U.S. Attorney with distinction.”

Durbin concluded, “By keeping these posts vacant, by refusing to give us a vote in the Senate on their nominations, we are jeopardizing the efforts of U.S. Attorney’s Offices to control narcotics and crime.  These men and women are on the front line of keeping us safe in America.  To hold up their nominations without any specific complaint about any one of these nominees is just unacceptable.  We have a responsibility here to keep Americans safe.  We can’t keep them safe by using a political reason to hold up the nominations of these well-qualified people.  If you are truly for law and order, if you are truly for law enforcement, if you want the prosecutors across America to keep us safe, then for goodness’ sakes, lift the hold on these nominations.”

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.