Hints from the Republican Senate leadership that Loretta Lynch, President Barack Obama’s attorney general nominee, could face yet another confirmation delay drew sharp reaction from Democrats and civil rights leaders Monday. During the weekend, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell said a vote to confirm Lynch would be put off until members pass an anti-human-trafficking bill that has stalled because of an anti-abortion provision Democrats oppose. McConnell previously had indicated a vote on Lynch’s nomination would happen this week.
"This will have an impact on the timing of considering the new attorney general,” he said Sunday on CNN’s "State of the Union." “Now, I had hoped to turn to her next week, but, if we can't finish the trafficking bill, she will be put off again. [Democrats] need to come to grips with this."
Several high-ranking Democrats fired back Monday, saying the delay was evidence of the GOP’s struggles at governing through a Congress it controls. "Unfortunately, rather than move forward with this historic nomination, Senate Republicans appear intent on making history for all the wrong reasons," said Sen. Patrick Leahy of Vermont, the top Democrat on the Senate committee that approved Lynch’s nomination last month.
In a statement, Sen. Chuck Schumer of New York said Republicans had run out of excuses for delaying the vote. "For months and months, Republicans have failed to move forward with her nomination using any excuse they can, except for any credible objection to her nomination itself,” he said. White House spokesman Josh Earnest Monday called the new delay “unconscionable.”
.@PressSec: "unconscionable" delays on Lynch confirmation don't reflect well on GOP efforts to show they can govern
— Mike Memoli (@mikememoli) March 16, 2015
Lynch’s nomination appears to have enough Democratic and Republican votes to pass if it were brought to the floor this week, multiple news reports indicate. However, several prominent Republicans, including Sen. Ted Cruz of Texas, said they will oppose Lynch because of her support of Obama’s immigration policies. If confirmed, Lynch would become the first African-American female attorney general.
Wade Henderson, president and CEO of the Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights, said Republican delays on the historic appointment look bad for the party, especially because her confirmation “has already taken longer than any attorney general nominee on record.”
“The Senate Republican leadership has mishandled the Lynch nomination in every way conceivable,” Henderson said. “While this nomination has languished, we’ve received terrorist threats against places like the Mall of America and racial tensions continue to simmer as our national consciousness has turned to deep-seated bias in law enforcement.”