Senator Cory Gardner (R-CO) said Thursday that he will block all of President Donald Trump’s Justice Department nominees until the administration reverses its decision to rescind former President Barack Obama’s ruling to de-prioritize the enforcement of the nation’s marijuana laws.
Colorado legalized marijuana after Obama’s Justice Department made it clear that federal authorities would not prosecute marijuana businesses in states where it was considered legal. Gardner, in a Senate floor speech, expressed his displeasure with Attorney General Jeff Sessions sudden decision to reverse course. Gardner said he is upset because he had previously received a commitment from Sessions that the federal government would keep the Obama-era policy.
“And that’s why I will be putting today a hold on every single nomination from the Department of Justice until Attorney General Jeff Sessions lives up to the commitment that he made to me in my pre-confirmation meeting with him,” Gardner said. “Until he lives up to that commitment, I will be holding all nominations to the Department of Justice.”
“The president believes in enforcing federal law, that will be his top priority, and that is regardless of what the topic is, whether it’s marijuana or whether it’s immigration. The president strongly believes that we should enforce federal law,” Sanders said at Thursday’s White House briefing.
While Republicans have only a single vote majority after Bannon-backed Roy Moore lost a safe Alabama seat, Vice President Mike Pence would break any tie on a nominee that Gardner’s protest of federal law might cause.
Removing Marijuana from the Schedule I list of controlled substances would achieve Gardner’s goal without threatening Trump’s nominees. In June of 2016, the FDA conducted analysis on whether or not to downgrade the drug but, in August, decided against the move.
Correction: This article was corrected to show that Sen. Gardner is threatening Trump’s DOJ nominees. The story had erroneously reported that the Senator was planning to hold up Trump’s judicial nominees.