Democrats and Republicans intensified their clash this week over President Barack Obama's nomination of Loretta Lynch as the next U.S. attorney general. The partisan conflict guarantees that Lynch's record-long wait for confirmation will be even longer -- despite having enough support on both sides of the aisle if a vote were held.
The Senate was no closer to confirming Lynch Thursday after Democrats rejected Wednesday Republicans’ latest proposal for an anti-abortion provision in a human trafficking bill, Bloomberg News reported. While Senate Minority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., said “it would be wrong” for his party to accept the proposal, Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., has said Lynch's confirmation could proceed if Democrats would accept the Republican language in the trafficking bill that bans abortion funding for trafficking victims.
Lynch, 55, was nominated by Obama in November to replace Attorney General Eric Holder, who is remaining on the job until the Senate confirms his successor. Currently the U.S. attorney for the Eastern District of New York, based in Brooklyn, Lynch would be the first African-American woman to head the Department of Justice as the nation’s top law enforcement official. But Democrats say their Republican colleagues, in lieu of objections over Lynch's qualifications for the job, are opposing and obstructing her nomination as a proxy for attacking the president. Some civil rights leaders, meanwhile, are holding a hunger strike to urge a Senate confirmation vote.
Here are the four other reasons why some Senate Republicans opposed Lynch and delayed her confirmation:
1. For Kentucky Sen. Rand Paul, the libertarian who recently declared his 2016 presidential candidacy, Lynch is the wrong choice because of her stance on civil asset forfeiture. The controversial police tactic allows officers to seize cash, cars, and houses from virtually all crime suspects. Paul has highlighted the tactic in his push to appeal to poor blacks and Hispanics, whom he says are disproportionately affected by police asset forfeitures.
2. Texas Sen. Ted Cruz, who also is running for president, said he opposes Lynch because of her agreement with the legal basis for Obama’s executive actions on undocumented immigration. “When asked whether she would defend President Obama’s illegal executive amnesty … she responded affirmatively, saying that she thought the administration’s contrived legal justification was ‘reasonable,’” Cruz wrote in an op-ed in February. Several other prominent Senate Republicans share Cruz’s view, including John Cornyn of Texas and Jeff Sessions of Alabama.
3. Republicans have said they oppose Lynch because of her views on the use of presidential powers. On Thursday, the Senate was likely to pivot away from the trafficking bill and onto the Obama Administration’s nuclear deal with Iran. Republicans and some Democrats have said that Congress, not just the White house, should be able to weigh in on the deal.
4. During Lynch's testimony before the Senate Judiciary Committee in February, Republicans said they were unsure if she would be any different than Holder, who has been fiercely criticized by the Republicans over his tenure. “No I’m not” Eric Holder, Lynch said unconvincingly in response to questions from Republicans about her ability to be independent of her boss.