Durbin blasts Cotton over GOP delays on judicial nominees

Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Dick Durbin (D-Ill.) blasted committee member Sen. Tom Cotton over his blockade of Justice Department nominees, saying the Arkansas Republican is “in the process of defunding law enforcement at the federal level.”

The nominations of six U.S. attorneys and two U.S. marshals are currently stalled in the Senate by Cotton over his concerns regarding several federal employees who have been sued in connection with Black Lives Matter protests in Portland in 2020, according to Bloomberg Law.

Representation for the majority of the more than 70 employees being sued is being paid for by the Justice Department, but representation was denied to one marshal and three other cases are pending, the news outlet noted, and the rapid floor consideration of the Justice Department nominations has been held up as a result.

Those tensions came to a head on Tuesday when Cotton asked Kristen Clarke, a top Justice Department official, during a Senate hearing if she recalled having any conversations regarding the representation of U.S. marshals. 

“Senator from Arkansas is raising an issue which we’ve raised on the floor several times. He’s put a hold on six U.S. attorneys and two U.S. marshals, and, as a consequence, their posts remain vacant during this period of time. He is actually in the process of defunding law enforcement at the federal level,” Durbin said at one point during the Senate hearing, slamming Cotton. 

“And it isn’t because of anything that these individuals have done wrong or anything in their background that suggests they’re not qualified. He is concerned about a case in Oregon and believes all U.S. attorneys should be held from performing their duties as a result of it,” he added.

Cotton shot back at Durbin later in the hearing, vowing to stall more nominees if need be.

“If Merrick Garland and Joe Biden thinks that they’re going to get their political nominees in this department fast-tracked to the Senate while they are hanging career law enforcement officers out to dry, they’ve got another thing coming,” Cotton said.

“And I’ll just correct what the chairman said. It’s not a handful of U.S. attorneys and U.S. marshals. It’s every political nominee in the department and every political nominee in the department will not get fast-tracked through this committee or the floor until these marshals get represented or until they give an answer.”

Tags blockade Dick Durbin Dick Durbin Joe Biden Justice Department Kristen Clarke Merrick Garland Tom Cotton Tom Cotton

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