Senate Democrats are pressuring Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) to bring the attorney general nomination of Loretta Lynch to the floor, with Sen. Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) telling reporters on a conference call that a “hard right Republican temper tantrum on immigration” was keeping her from assuming Eric Holder’s job.
Lynch does have the support of some Republicans. Three GOPs including Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) backed Lynch during last week’s Senate Judiciary Committee vote.
“It’s time to turn the page on Eric Holder’s tenure as Attorney General. We need a fresh start in the position, and this is an opportunity for our nation to move forward,” Graham said, calling her “well-qualified” for the role.
Sens. Orrin Hatch (R-Utah) and Jeff Flake (R-Ariz.) also voted for Lynch at the Judiciary Committee level.
Not all Republicans are as excited, though. “Given Ms. Lynch’s impressive credentials and commitment to public service, I wish that I could support her nomination,” Sen. Pat Toomey (R-Pa.) said Friday. “Unfortunately, I cannot. During our meeting, Ms. Lynch refused to answer fundamental questions about the U.S. Constitution and how it limits the president’s authority.”
Republicans who backed away from using the Department of Homeland Security appropriations bill to defund President Obama’s immigration orders have seen holding up the Lynch nomination — 118 days since Obama announced his pick, as of today — as a viable plan B.
“If they want to oppose the president’s executive orders, they should do so in the courts,” Schumer said. “Or, better yet, by passing immigration reform once and for all, which we on the Judiciary Committee worked so long and hard on. But to hold up the nomination of Miss Lynch over immigration is just plain wrong.”
“I’ve heard time and time again from my Republican colleagues that they think Eric Holder’s lawless and they – in their words, and want him to leave. And, yet, here we have this incredibly qualified person to come in, and it’s been stalled out,” Sen. Amy Klobuchar (D-Minn.) said on the call. “…She should be judged on her merits, and not used as a pawn in a proxy fight over the president’s immigration policies.”
Sen. Pat Leahy (D-Vt.) said there wasn’t time to push through Lynch’s nomination while Democrats still had the Senate majority, but instead pushing through judicial nominees with lifetime appointments at the end of the 113th Congress was “a very good trade off.”
“By the time we get to a vote, even if we were to have a vote on Monday, it makes no sense at all. I’m – I’m thinking of people like Loretta Lynch and her family, who fought hard for civil rights, and now on the anniversary of Selma, she’s being told just be patient and wait your turn,” Leahy said. “That’s wrong. And it’s beneath the Senate.”
The Dems said all of the members of the caucus signed a letter to McConnell asking for a vote.
“The problem seems to be that Republicans remain intent on finding any outlet they can to express their frustration with the president, until they get their way on immigration,” Schumer said. “First, they tried defunding the Department of Homeland Security in order to overturn the president’s executive action. Now, that that hasn’t worked, there are reports that more and more of the hard right Republicans are directing their ire at Mrs. Lynch’s nomination. That’s not fair to Ms. Lynch, and it’s the wrong way to govern.”