Top Republicans want Loretta Lynch's nomination to be attorney general delayed until they are in charge of the Senate — and they are insisting she divulge whether she supports the president's plan to act without Congress on a major immigration amnesty.
Soon-to-be Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell of Kentucky issued a Friday statement saying her nomination should be considered "in the new Congress," and on Saturday, Sens. Ted Cruz of Texas and Mike Lee of Utah also pushed for a delay. Cruz and Lee issued a joint statement highlighting their demand Lynch divulge her thoughts on whether an executive amnesty would be constitutional.
“President [Barack] Obama’s Attorney General nominee deserves fair and full consideration of the United States Senate, which is precisely why she should not be confirmed in the lame duck session of Congress by senators who just lost their seats and are no longer accountable to the voters. The Attorney General is the President's chief law enforcement officer. As such, the nominee must demonstrate full and complete commitment to the law. Loretta Lynch deserves the opportunity to demonstrate those qualities, beginning with a statement whether or not she believes the President’s executive amnesty plans are constitutional and legal.”It's not a surprise an immigration executive order in the lame duck might cause problems for Obama's attorney general pick. We highlighted the immigration issue as the No. 1 item in our "10 Questions for Eric Holder's Replacement as Attorney General " post.
It's also unclear yet how many Republicans would actually vote to block Lynch over the issue. A number of Republicans face potentially difficult re-election bids in 2016 in blue states. And the party would be blocking the first female black attorney general over immigration when party leaders have professed a desire to do more to appeal to African-Americans, women and Hispanics.
There is a way for Democrats, meanwhile, to avoid the potential for Republicans to nix Lynch in a frenzy of retribution for Obama's promised immigration action.
They would need to confirm her during the lame duck.
Under the nuclear option, Democrats effectively changed Senate rules last year prohibiting a minority of senators from blocking nominations except for Supreme Court picks.
But slamming through an attorney general pick in the lame duck, alongside Obama's controversial immigration amnesty that would potentially allow millions of immigrants here illegally to stay and obtain work permits, would set the stage for an extremely contentious final two years of Obama's presidency.
Speaker John A. Boehner, R-Ohio, and other Republicans have already warned Obama that acting on immigration would poison the well on immigration and hurt their ability to work with the president on other issues as well.
Obama, in turn, has told them that they've had their chance to act and he's done waiting.
Related: Confirmation Gauntlet Expected for Loretta Lynch Immigration Showdown: Defiant Obama Tells GOP He Will Act White House Dismisses David Krone’s Criticism Roll Call Results Map: Results and District Profiles for Every Seat Get breaking news alerts and more from Roll Call in your inbox or on your iPhone.