On Friday, April 17, President Obama called out the Senate for stalling his nomination of Loretta Lynch as attorney general. This was the longest wait for a nominee in three decades.
“Enough. Enough. Call Loretta Lynch for a vote, get her confirmed, let her do her job,” Obama said during a White House press conference. “This is embarrassing,” he added.
It had been 160 days since Obama initially nominated her on Nov. 8, 2014. The delay in her confirmation was the longest since 1984, when Ronald Regan elected Edwin Meese as attorney general.
“There are times where the dysfunction in the Senate just goes too far,” Obama said. “This is an example of it.”
Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell was delaying Lynch’s nomination as a means to make Democrats drop the filibuster on the unrelated anti-human trafficking bill. McConnell said he would not confirm Lynch until the disagreement was resolved.
On April 23, Lynch was confirmed as the nation’s first African-American top law enforcement officer with a 56 to 43 vote, replacing Eric Holder. The votes for Lynch were the lowest of any attorney general since 2007, when Michael Mukasey won confirmation with 53 votes after Democrats discovered his refusal to label waterboarding as torture, according to NBC.
What decreased Republican support for Lynch were her views on immigration, and her refusal to denounce Obama’s laws implementing limited deportation of millions of undocumented immigrants. Lynch stated she believed Obama’s actions to be reasonable and lawful. Even still, Lynch won the support of 10 Republicans, which was more than initially expected. Surprisingly, McConnell was among the few Republicans who voted yes.
From the White House, Obama praised her confirmation. “Loretta has spent her life fighting for the fair and equal justice that is the foundation of our democracy,” Obama said. “She will bring to bear her experience as a tough, independent and well-respected prosecutor on key bipartisan priorities like criminal justice reform.”
It was expected that Republicans would move Lynch’s nomination quickly this year, since most GOP party members are said to despise Holder, who is believed to be too politically aligned with Obama and even more liberal. However, the nomination became ensnared in disagreements about Obama’s immigration reform, and suddenly, all seemed to be delayed.
Since 2010, Lynch has been the top prosecutor for a large district including Brooklyn, Queens, Staten Island and Long Island, a position she held from 1991 to 2001. She will now take on a department dedicated to combating terrorism and cyber attacks, and focused on national debate over law enforcement’s treatment of black men.
Information for this article taken from npr.org, nbcnewyork.com, cnn.com