10 GOPs Push Lynch to Confirmation Five Months After Nod
WASHINGTON – Loretta Lynch has been confirmed by the Senate to serve as the 83rd attorney general of the United States after an extended delay and despite protests from some Republicans that she will prove too beholden in her duties to President Obama, the man who nominated her to the position.
Lynch, 55, the U.S. attorney for the Eastern District of New York, was approved in a 56-43 vote with 10 Republicans, including Senate Republican Leader Mitch McConnell, of Kentucky, joining all 46 Democrats. The vote came after the nomination cleared a procedural hurdle in a 66-34 vote.
Lynch becomes the first African-American woman to hold the nation’s top law enforcement position. She replaces Eric Holder, who announced he was stepping down five months ago.
Obama praised the vote – despite the lengthy interval in bringing the nomination to the floor – asserting that “America will be better off for it.” He called her a “tough, independent and well-respected prosecutor.”
“Loretta’s confirmation ensures that we are better positioned to keep our communities safe, keep our nation secure and ensure that every American experiences justice under the law,” Obama said.
The nomination was not without controversy, even though most lawmakers acknowledged, some of them grudgingly, that Lynch was well qualified for the job.
The problem was her defense of the executive orders issued by the president last year that effectively protect, at least temporarily, an estimated 4 million undocumented aliens from deportation. Leading conservatives in the upper chamber, enraged by the White House action, insist the orders were unconstitutional and called on Lynch to denounce them at her confirmation hearing before the Senate Judiciary Committee.
She refused, instead telling the panel that Obama had, in her opinion, acted legally. The position attracted GOP opposition.
“Ms. Lynch’s prior laudable record as a federal prosecutor cannot overcome her commitment to violating the Constitution,” said Sen. Jeff Sessions (R-Ala.). “I think it should be a bipartisan vote in rejecting this nomination. And in so doing, Congress will send the clear message that we expect the president to abide by the laws passed by Congress, not violate them.”
Sessions said those opposed to the nomination were “deeply concerned in this country about the president’s executive amnesty, the unlawfulness of it, the breadth of the arrogance of it to the point that it’s a direct assault on congressional power and legitimacy, a direct attack on laws passed by the people’s representatives and we’ve got a big problem.”
Lynch, he said, is committed to defending the president’s initiatives in court.
“We do not have to confirm someone to the highest law enforcement position in America if that someone has publicly committed to denigrating Congress, violating laws of Congress, violating even wishes of Congress and the American people,” he said.
Sessions was joined by, among others, Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Texas), who said he would “very much like to see an attorney general who will return to the bipartisan traditions of the Department of Justice, of fidelity to law and that includes, most importantly, the willingness to stand up to the president who appointed you, even if he or she is from the same political party.”