J.D. Vance’s plan to block confirmation of April Perry as U.S. attorney is politics at its worst

Ohio Sen. J.D. Vance plans to block the vote on Perry’s nomination to be U.S. attorney based in Chicago, as well as holds on other Justice Department appointments, because he’s angry about investigations into Donald Trump.

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April Perry

April Perry

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In an upcoming biography by McKay Coppins, U.S. Sen. Mitt Romney is quoted as saying, “I don’t know that I can disrespect someone more than [Ohio Republican Sen.] J.D. Vance.”

We can see why, now that Vance plans to put a hold on the appointment of April M. Perry to become the next U.S. attorney based in Chicago — she would be the first woman to hold the position — along with holds on all other appointments to the Department of Justice.

After decades of calling for law and order, undermining law enforcement is a 180-degree switch for Republicans, but they’re doing just that in the hope of making President Joe Biden and the Democrats look bad on the issue in the 2024 election campaign.

Last Thursday, the Senate Judiciary Committee sent Perry’s nomination to the Senate floor by a vote of 12-9, but under the chamber’s arcane rules, just one senator can block the confirmation, even a senator who is not from Illinois. Vance doesn’t have any beef with Perry’s appointment. He’s just aggrieved at the Justice Department’s investigations of Donald Trump.

Vance is using the same playbook as his GOP colleague from Alabama, U.S. Sen. Tommy Tuberville, who has put a hold on hundreds of military promotions since January.

Editorial

Editorial

The Democrats could rewrite the rules to allow the nominations to go forward, but they are looking at a tough 2024 Senate re-election map and want to keep the power of individual senators in place should they suddenly find themselves in the minority. Of course, if the Republicans win control of the Senate, they could deny Democrats that power anyway.

For their part, Republicans could allow the nominations to go forward whenever the objecting senator is not on the floor. In reality, some other senator would object, because that’s how things work in Washington.

The Senate also could approve the appointments by holding floor votes on each nominee, rather than approving them as a group through unanimous consent. But that is a laborious and time-consuming process, as insider maneuvering would drag everything out and debate would follow — for each nominee — grinding the Senate’s work down to a halt.

The office of U.S. attorney for the Northern District of Illinois has been vacant for six months. The work of the office proceeds, of course, but not as efficiently as it could with no one in the top job.

The options for moving forward have drawbacks. Vance should have the integrity to let Perry’s appointment proceed.

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