Press Releases

Washington, DC – U.S. Senator Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.) today hailed the House of Representatives’ passage of legislation to prevent the circumvention of the Senate’s constitutional prerogative to confirm U.S. Attorneys. 

 The legislation, authored by Senator Feinstein, was introduced in the Senate shortly after it was revealed that at least eight U.S. Attorneys were fired without cause.  The Senate approved the bill on March 20, 2007, and it now goes to the President to be signed into law.

“Congress has spoken, and it is clear that we want accountability.  Both the House and Senate have passed legislation to ensure that the Senate confirms every U.S. Attorney,” Senator Feinstein said.  “Many unanswered questions remain, including who in the Department of Justice put the names of eight U.S. Attorneys on the list for removal.  We will continue this investigation until we flesh out who did what, when, and why.”

Preserving United States Attorney Independence Act of 2007

Under a provision inserted without notice into the USA Patriot Act reauthorization last year, the law was changed so that if a vacancy arises, the Attorney General may appoint a replacement for an indefinite period of time – thus completely avoiding the Senate confirmation process.

The legislation would restore the process in place before 2006.  It would allow the Attorney General to appoint interim U.S. Attorney for 120 days.  If after that time the President has not sent up a nominee to the Senate and had that nominee confirmed, then the authority to appoint an interim U.S. Attorney would fall to the district court.  This was the law from 1986 to 2006.

United States Attorney Local Residency Restoration Act

Senator Feinstein also introduced legislation to reverse a second provision inserted into last year’s PATRIOT Act reauthorization at the request of the Department of Justice.  The provision changed current law to allow U.S. attorneys to live outside of their districts if the Attorney General assigns them dual or additional responsibilities.   

The United States Attorney Local Residency Restoration Act would restore the residency requirement for sitting U.S. Attorneys.  It would require that U.S. Attorneys reside in the district they are appointed, and assistant United States attorneys reside in the district for which they are appointed or within 25 miles thereof.