Sen. Tom Cotton refused to confirm US attorney nominees in blue states until Sen. Dick Durbin apologized for interrupting him 9 months ago

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  • Sen. Dick Durbin apologized to Sen. Tom Cotton so that five US attorney nominees could be confirmed.

  • Cotton disliked that Durbin interrupted him during a hearing on a Department of Justice nominee.

  • While Durbin apologized to Cotton, he said Republicans attempted to block a vote on the nominee.

Last week, Republican Sen. Tom Cotton of Arkansas refused to confirm the Biden administration's US attorney nominees in blue states until Democratic Sen. Dick Durbin of Illinois apologized for interrupting him during a committee hearing in March.

Durbin said Cotton's objection broke with custom, adding that it had been nearly half a century since the Senate required a roll-call vote on a US attorney nominee. He also said Democrats never held up US attorney nominations during the Trump administration despite having the power to do so.

"Given the critical role that these US attorneys play in bringing justice to those who violate federal criminal laws, it is hard to imagine that any member of this body would obstruct efforts to confirm these law-enforcement officials," Durbin said. "Doing so could threaten public safety and puts at risk millions of Americans' security. It's also a stark departure from what has happened before."

Still, Cotton said "courtesy and collegiality and respect" needed to be a "two-way street" in the Senate, reiterating that he had the right to object to nominees.

"If there are not consequences when rules and traditions are breached in this institution, we will soon not have rules and traditions," Cotton said. "I also said that if the senator from Illinois would simply express regret for what happened that day and pledge that it wouldn't happen again, I would be happy to let all these nominees move forward."

Cotton was referencing a Senate Judiciary Committee hearing in March for Vanita Gupta, who was nominated by the Biden administration and later confirmed as an associate attorney general at the Department of Justice.

Durbin, who chairs the committee, interrupted Republican attacks on Gupta to force a vote, which resulted in a deadlock, The Hill reported. She was narrowly confirmed by a bipartisan vote in the Senate, 51-49, with Alaska Sen. Lisa Murkowski casting the lone Republican vote of support.

While Durbin eventually apologized for interrupting Cotton during the March hearing, he said Republicans forced his hand in their attempt to block a vote on Gupta's nomination by invoking an obscure Senate rule to prevent the committee from meeting after midnight, The Hill reported.

"This outrageous obstruction of a nominee with broad support from across the political spectrum left Chair Durbin with no option but to call a roll call vote before the Committee meeting was terminated by Republicans' invocation of this rule," an account for judiciary-committee Democrats tweeted after the vote.

After Durbin's apology, the committee unanimously confirmed five nominees for US attorneys in Illinois, Hawaii, Rhode Island, Vermont, and New Jersey, according to the Senate Judiciary Committee.

Read the original article on Business Insider