The Rev. Al Sharpton said Thursday that delaying the vote to confirm Loretta Lynch as the next attorney general is unacceptable and rank-and-file senators could face retribution for not pushing for a vote.
Senate Republican leaders have said they intend to address a human trafficking bill before bringing Lynch's confirmation to a vote, but the bill has been stalled by a standoff over the included abortion language. Senators continue negotiating a way to end the gridlock , but Sharpton said the delay on voting to confirm the first black woman attorney general is unconscionable, considering the tumultuous times. “To not have a vote on Loretta Lynch as attorney general while we face such challenging times in the criminal justice system is an insult to every American," Sharpton told a group of D.C. officials and leaders gathered at the Willard Hotel Thursday morning.
He pointed to recent shootings of unarmed African-American men as evidence that Lynch should be confirmed, saying the Justice Department is in limbo without its next leader. Sharpton also warned that it's not just Senate Republican leaders who have to worry about a backlash over the Lynch confirmation delay.
"And we’re going to start making house calls. There are several senators that are in states that were won by President [Barack] Obama that are up for re-election," he said. "Rather than just go to [Senate Majority Leader Mitch] McConnell, we’re going to see them, to tell them that if you can’t push this vote, we are going to be pushing a vote against you when you run for re-election next year.”
In addition to lobbying senators, Sharpton's group, the National Action Network, launched a fasting campaign on Wednesday. Participants will fast for one day at a time until Lynch is confirmed, with a new group of fasters replacing those from the previous day.
But on Thursday, Sharpton took the cause to D.C. leaders, laying into Congress while at the prayer breakfast honoring D.C. Emancipation Day, which commemorates President Abraham Lincoln's 1862 act that freed the slaves in the District of Columbia. The officials and leaders gathered at the event applauded Sharpton's critique of Congress and had a laugh over his reference to the gyrocopter that landed on Capitol Hill on Wednesday.
“You are sitting in a city where people can get on gyrocopters and land on the Capitol Hill and you don’t want to have the top law enforcement officer confirmed?" Sharpton said. "You must be out of your mind.”
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