Washington, D.C. – Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY) today spoke on the Senate floor as Republican Senator Tom Cotton (R-AR) blocked the confirmation of U.S. Attorneys and U.S. Marshals. Below are Senator Schumer’s remarks:
I rise today to join with my Democratic colleagues in support of these U.S. Attorneys and Marshals who have singlehandedly been delayed for weeks by one Senator – the junior senator from Arkansas.
For decades, Democrats and Republicans have regularly cooperated to swiftly confirm the many, many individuals selected by each President to serve in their Administration.
Regardless of the party in the White House, both sides have long agreed that a President deserves to have his or her Administration in place, quickly.
That doesn’t mean we don’t disagree. But it does mean when nominees are held up, opposed, or blocked—it’s for a legitimate purpose, not for leverage in partisan games, to score political points at the expense of public safety.
Most of us still believe in that principle. But sadly not all of us.
On the other side of the aisle, a small group of obstructionist Republicans have spent the last year hijacking the rules of the Senate to place an unprecedented number of holds on hundreds, hundreds of presidential appointees.
Let me repeat: this isn’t about a few nominees here and there. We are talking about hundreds of nominees. In this case, my colleague from Arkansas is holding back six U.S. Attorneys and two U.S. Marshals, vital roles in preserving public safety.
The level of partisan obstruction is a new low for the Senate. When President Trump was in office, every single U.S. Attorney and U.S. Marshal—every single one—was confirmed by this chamber with unanimous consent. Yes we had deep, deep problems with the Trump Department of Justice, but never did we demand a roll call vote just to confirm nominees like these.
In fact, the last time the Senate had to hold a roll call vote – listen to this. The last time the Senate had to hold a roll call vote to confirm a U.S. Attorney was half a century ago, nearly a half century ago, in 1975.
And it’s not hard to see why: U.S. Attorneys and Marshals aren’t political positions—their job is literally to keep Americans safe. They are federal prosecutors. They are federal law enforcement.
If my Republican colleagues on the other side truly care about public safety, why are they obstructing the appointments of individuals whose jobs would precisely be to maintain public safety in the first place? It is Alice in Wonderland Logic.
Now this isn’t just about breaking precedent. Right now, communities across the country still don’t have their U.S. Attorneys on the job because of obstruction here in the Senate.
Districts in Georgia, Ohio, Nevada, Minnesota, Michigan, Illinois – they’re all still waiting for U.S. Attorneys or Marshals. Sadly, the families who live in these communities shouldn’t have to pay the price for what a very small number of Republicans are doing here and sadly that’s what is happening. It is a textbook example—a textbook example—of why Americans are frustrated with the Senate, frustrated with their government.
On the other hand, I want to thank my Democratic colleagues for advocating on behalf of these U.S. Attorneys and Marshals. I thank my friend Senator Durbin, Chairman of Judiciary, for speaking passionately.
I thank Senator Klobuchar for coming to the floor to speak. And I thank Senators Rosen and Cortez Masto and Duckworth, and Brown who are also speaking.
One way or another, these nominees will be confirmed by the Senate.
Republican obstructionists can try to delay. But they cannot stop these individuals from ultimately going through.
If the holds on these nominees are not dropped, I will be filing cloture on them.
And we will schedule votes to advance them until the job is finished.
If that means more late nights, then more late nights are coming.
If it means vote series with six or seven or eight votes in a row, then that’s what we will do.
Most of us don’t want to go down that road. We don’t have to. The overwhelming majority of Democrats and Republicans want to preserve the decades of precedent and comity that has enabled us to work together on nominees.
So let me say for one last time: delaying the appointment of U.S. Attorneys and U.S. Marshals over cheap partisan games ultimately makes Americans less safe and weakens law enforcement.
I urge my Republican colleague to drop his obstruction, or else he can explain to his colleagues why we have to schedule a dizzyingly large number of roll call votes just to push these nominees through.
I thank my colleagues for their work and yield to Senator Durbin.