Tom Cotton threatens to block blue state nominees in retaliation for being 'interrupted'


But Republican lawmakers were outraged last month when two Democratic senators threatened to slow nominations to ensure more diverse appointments.

Sen. Tom Cotton (R-AR) is promising to obstruct the top prosecutors for 10 blue states as a way to punish their Democratic senators.

"I will refuse consent or time agreements for the nomination of any U.S. attorney from any state represented by a Democrat on the Judiciary Committee." Cotton said Thursday.

Such a move will delay the confirmation process for the top federal prosecutors in California, Colorado, Delaware, Georgia, Hawaii, Illinois, Minnesota, New Jersey, Rhode Island, and Vermont.

He framed his stalling as "consequences" for the 11 Judiciary Committee Democrats who voted to advance the nomination of Vanita Gupta, President Joe Biden's nominee to be associate attorney general. Cotton is angry that the committee chair, Sen. Dick Durbin (D-IL), called for a vote while he was still speaking against her.

Durbin has said he was forced to wrap up the hearing quickly because the GOP minority was trying to use a procedural trick to force the committee's adjournment.

"US Attorneys prosecute terrorists & human traffickers," the Democratic majority on the committee tweeted on Thursday. "Cotton wants to obstruct them from protecting our communities & our nation."

Cotton did not immediately respond to an inquiry for this story and none of his GOP colleagues appear to have publicly denounced his move.

But he and several other congressional Republicans were outraged last month when two Democratic senators threatened to delay some nominees to ensure more diverse appointments.

Concerned about a dearth of representation for the Asian American and Pacific Islander community in Biden's Cabinet, Sens. Tammy Duckworth (D-IL) and Mazie Hirono (D-HI) — the only two AAPI people serving in the Senate — said on March 23 that they would withhold their votes on non-diverse nominees until the administration agreed to improve its diversity efforts. The administration and the senators quickly reached an agreement to do just that, resolving the standoff.

However, Cotton complained at the time that their objections were proof that "We've gone pretty far down the road from judging people by the content of their character and not the color of their skin."

"Mazie Hirono and Tammy Duckworth have now stated they will refuse to vote for any nominee who is not of color. They will only vote for white people if they are LGBTQ. So much for 'content of their character,'" tweeted Rep. Lauren Boebert (R-CO) — after the senators had already dropped their objections.

"Senate Democrats are voting for nominees based on race, not qualifications. This is absolutely wrong," wrote Rep. Ken Buck (R-CO).

"Remember when 'I won't support someone because of their skin color' used to be racist?" agreed Rep. Dan Crenshaw (R-TX).

Rep. Tim Burchett (R-TN) retweeted a post asking: "How is this not racist and bigoted?"

None immediately responded to inquiries about Cotton's latest comments targeting nominees in Democratic states.

This is hardly the first time Cotton has tried to use his position to stall or block Democratic nominees to make a political point.

In March, he forced procedural delays on the nomination of Attorney General Merrick Garland. These stalling tactics slowed the process of filling the top position at the Department of Justice despite the rising right-wing domestic terror threats the department needed to address — and the 70% bipartisan support for Garland's confirmation in the Senate.

During the Obama administration, Cotton also held up the nomination of Cassandra Butts — Barack Obama's pick to be ambassador to the Bahamas — leaving her without a confirmation vote for two years. Butts, who Obama first met while he was in law school, died of leukemia before she could get the job. The Arkansas Republican reportedly said he blocked her "as a way to inflict special pain on the president."

Because Democrats hold a narrow 51-50 majority in the Senate with Vice President Kamala Harris as the tie-breaking vote, Cotton can slow the nomination process for these U.S. attorneys and other nominees, but cannot block them — as long as Democrats stay united.

Published with permission of The American Independent Foundation.