Loretta Lynch_Dec2014
Former U.S. Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Sen. Patrick Leahy of Vermont (right) planned to help fend off Republican attacks on attorney general nominee Loretta Lynch (left) during her confirmation hearings in Washington. Reuters/Jonathan Ernst

New York federal prosecutor Loretta Lynch was scheduled to be on Capitol Hill Wednesday for the first of two days of testimony before a panel of U.S. senators, in her bid to win confirmation as the nation's next attorney general. Although her nomination by President Barack Obama is widely viewed as noncontroversial, members of the Republican-controlled Senate Judiciary Committee plan to grill Lynch on the Obama administration’s executive action to offer millions of undocumented immigrants work permits and multiyear postponements of deportation proceedings. Lynch was expected to tell the senators that she doesn’t believe Obama has the "blanket power" to carry out the immigration actions, Politoco reported. However, she could defend Obama’s move and say it stayed within the bounds of his constitutional powers. To watch a live stream of Lynch’s hearing, click here.

The most aggressive of the Republican committee members have said that immigration issues could derail her nomination if she is tone-deaf about Obama’s use of executive power, a person involved in her hearing preparations told Politico. It’ll likely be a balancing act for Lynch, who is best known for her work in the U.S. Attorney’s Office in the eastern district of New York, where, among other accomplishments, she won convictions against several New York police officers who brutalized a Haitian immigrant while he was in their custody. She has also cracked down on American businessmen who exploited undocumented immigrants by stealing their wages and falsifying their identities at a chain of convenience stores.

Before being appointed as U.S. attorney by Obama in 2010, Lynch, 55, served in the same role as an appointee of President Bill Clinton from 1999 until 2001. Before that, Lynch had served various roles in the district, rising in rank over a decade. She also worked in the private sector, as a partner in a New York firm working commercial litigation cases and defending white-collar criminals. Democrats on the Senate judiciary panel said they hoped their GOP colleagues would not use the hearings to grandstand about the actions of Lynch’s predecessor, Attorney General Eric Holder, who last fall announced his plan to leave the Obama administration.

“Ms. Lynch deserves to be judged on her own record,” said Sen. Patrick Leahy of Vermont, the ranking Democrat on the panel, in a statement released Tuesday. “I am confident that if we stay focused on Ms. Lynch’s impeccable qualifications and her reputation for fairness, she will be quickly confirmed by the Senate.”