Sen. Ted Cruz called attorney general nominee Loretta Lynch's immigration views "dangerous" Wednesday and questioned whether Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., should even have the chamber consider her nomination.
"That is the decision the majority leader is going to have to make. I believe we should use every constitutional tool available to stop the president's unconstitutional executive action. That's what Republicans, Republican candidates all over the country said over and over again last year," the Texas Republican said in a brief interview with CQ Roll Call as the daylong Judiciary Committee hearing on Lynch's nomination neared conclusion.
Given that Judiciary Chairman Charles E. Grassley, R-Iowa, said that committee members will have a week to submit questions in writing once the hearing portion with outside witnesses concludes, it's unlikely Lynch would be lined up for time on the floor before the Presidents Day recess next month. The timing could coincide with the expiration in funding for the Department of Homeland Security, which is also caught up in Republican opposition to President Barack Obama's action on immigration.
"For several months now, I've called for us to use every constitutional check and balance we have to rein in the president's illegal action. That includes using the confirmation power given by the Constitution as a direct check on the executive," Cruz said. "In my view the majority leader should announce the Senate will not confirm any executive or judicial nominees in this Congress, other than vital national security positions, unless and until the president rescinds" the executive actions granting deferred action to almost 5 million of undocumented individuals.
While the attorney general position is exempt from that proposed blockade, Cruz nonetheless sounded skeptical that Lynch in particular should be allowed to advance.
"This attorney general nominee has a separate set of concerns, namely that she has now explicitly embraced the president's unconstitutional action, has pledged to help him implement that unconstitutional action and indeed ... she refused to delineate any limits whatsoever on the president's authority," Cruz said. "She could not give any instance of a limit on the president's authority. That is profoundly dangerous to have an attorney general, who by her own testimony is prepared to rubber stamp unconstitutional conduct by the president."
A senior GOP aide responded to the Cruz comments by saying that they could not recall any instances of a Cabinet-level nomination being denied at least a cloture vote.
The aide also noted that forestalling Lynch's nomination would have effect of keeping Eric H. Holder Jr., in office.
Related: Lynch Hearing Gives Senators a Chance to Vent The 114th: CQ Roll Call's Guide to the New Congress Get breaking news alerts and more from Roll Call in your inbox or on your iPhone.