Sen. J.D. Vance puts all Department of Justice nominees on hold
The Freshman Republican Senato from Ohio J.D. Vance, has announced his intention to block the confirmation vote for the next U.S. attorney in Chicago, causing significant disruption in the Senate. Vance's decision stems from his ongoing protest of the federal prosecution of former President Donald Trump.
April Perry’s nomination was among twelve federal nominations announced by President Joe Biden three months ago at an executive meeting of the Judiciary Committee, chaired by Illinois' Senior Senator, Democratic Dick Durbin. Durbin began the hearing by stating that Vance, had announced he would block Perry’s nomination as part of his continued objection to the indictment of Trump.
Vance was quoted as saying, “If [Attorney General] Merrick Garland wants to use these officials to harass Joe Biden’s political opponents, we will grind his department to a halt."
On Thursday the Senate Judiciary Committee sent the nomination of Perry, who would be Chicago's first female U.S. Attorney, to the Senate floor on a 12-9 vote with Senator Lindsey Graham of South Carolina being the only Republican who voted in favor.
The hold imposed by Vance in not specifically related to Perry, who if confirmed, would be Chicago's first woman U.S. Attorney.
“If (Attorney General) Merrick Garland wants to use these officials to harass Joe Biden’s political opponents, we will grind his department to a halt,” Vance said in a statement earlier this year.
In the past confirmation of noncontroversial appointees used to be routine occuring a few weeks after the committee advanced the nominee. Traditionally votes on law enforcement nominees are not voted on individually as they are not considered to be controversial. It was more often the case that these nominees are voted on as a group and confirmed in voice count or by unanimous acclimation Voting on each specific nominee takes considerable time but it also allows a single senator to blockade an individual.
In addition to Vance's current block of all DOJ nominees, this year Republican Senior Senator Tommy Tuberville from Alabama blocked all Department of Defense flag and general officer nominations over his protest of the Pentagon's abortion policy. Tuberville objected to members of the military and their dependents being covered for any expenses related to abortion procedures. Over 300 routine, noncontroversial promotions have been blocked. Tuberville, whose protest began in Feb. and is still going strong, has been heavily criticized by defense officials who have accused the senator of jeopardizing the country's national security.
Then in June, Vance, a freshman senator who is best known as the author “Hillbilly Elegy,” announced he would put holds on all DOJ nominees, using the ability each senator has the power to use to put a “procedural hold” on confirmation votes. When Vance issued this challenge he stated he was doing it because of the “unprecedented political prosecution” of Former President Trump.
Vance’s initiative occured following Trump’s federal indictment in the Florida classified documents case that took place in June. Trump stands accused of illegally keeping documents he took from the White House, and obstructing DOJ attempts to recover the content.
Following the vote on Perry's nomination, Vance made a statement saying, “While we would hope for quick consideration of Ms. Perry’s nomination by the full Senate, one Republican Senator continues to hold up Department of Justice nominees, including critical federal law enforcement officers—who prosecute violent crime, terrorism, and crimes against children—from being quickly confirmed. If the Republican Party was really the party of ‘law and order,’ they would release their holds and allow these law enforcement officers to be confirmed without delay."
Vance has not previously held office such that his objection to the federal prosecution of Trump has become the focal point of his political career. By holding all DOJ nominees hostage, Vance intends to assert his influence while still a freshman senator and exert force to gain maximum advantage in Senate proceedings.
This move not only delays the confirmation process for the next U.S. attorney in Chicago but also affects the broader functioning of the DOJ, casting a shadow over the Senate's ability to fulfill its constitutional duties. Vance's block of DOJ appointees and Tuberville's block of DOD promotions does more than make a poloitical statement, according to experts it puts U.S. national security at risk in a very real way.