After months of delays and bitter recriminations, the Senate on Tuesday ended a stalemate over a bill to help victims of sex trafficking, paving the way for a confirmation vote for Loretta E. Lynch to replace Eric H. Holder Jr. as attorney general, according to The New York Times.
A vote is scheduled to take place Thursday morning, after senators negotiated an agreement in an unrelated measure on sex trafficking that entangled and delayed Lynch’s nomination after Kentucky’s Republican Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell said he would not schedule a confirmation vote until the Senate passed the separate legislation, writes The Times.
Lynch has been waiting more than five months for the Senate to vote, prompting President Barack Obama last week to call the delay “embarrassing.” Black congressional leaders and Vice President Joe Biden accused the mostly White male Republican leadership of mistreating Lynch because she is a Black woman. Illinois Democratic Sen. Dick Durbin accused his colleagues of pushing “Lynch to the back of the bus.”
But on Wednesday, Democrats and supporters alike celebrate the news of the impending vote for Lynch’s confirmation.
“After five long months,” Tyrone Gayle, a spokesman for 2016 Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton wrote in an email statement to NewsOne. “Hillary is glad Congress has finally stopped delaying the confirmation of Loretta Lynch. She is a great nominee and would be the first African-American woman to serve as attorney general. This delay was longer than any in more than 30 years and needed to end.”
U.S. Rep. G.K. Butterfield of North Carolina, who is chairman of the Congressional Black Caucus, echoed Clinton’s sentiments, telling NewsOne the delay was purely about politics. Lynch, the United States attorney for the Eastern District of New York, comes with an impeccable resume, Butterfield says.
While the nomination will not be a “slam dunk,” Lynch does have enough votes to be confirmed, says Butterfield, who plans to hold a news conference Wednesday afternoon on the issue.
“It’s been 164 days Loretta Lynch was nominated,” Butterfield said. “It’s politics. It has nothing to do with her qualifications to serve. We hope that Republican senators will see that public opinion is not on their side. Not a single individual has criticized her character or ability to hold the job.”
Indeed, the Washington Post also says Lynch has the votes:
Fifty-one senators have publicly stated their support for Lynch, likely assuring her confirmation once McConnell brings it to the floor. Most Republicans, however, continue to oppose her — most of them citing her support for President Obama’s authority to take executive action on immigration.
Senate Republican leaders were under increasing pressure from Democrats and a few vocal Republican backers, like former New York Mayor Rudy Giuliani, to move forward with Lynch. But striking the deal also allows them to the remove the distraction of the Lynch nomination and move forward with a jam-packed six-week work session. Waiting for floor consideration are major policy measures, including a bipartisan bill setting out a congressional review of a potential nuclear deal with Iran, a bill to strengthen national cyber-security efforts and, next month, legislation granting President Obama “fast track” trade authority.
It’s too bad that Lynch’s nomination was used as a pawn in a game of petty, partisan politics. But we’re pleased that the vote can now move forward. With widening concerns about ISIS and complaints of police brutality across the country, the nation needs a sitting attorney general—although Holder will be missed.