Senate Democrats Press McConnell to Schedule Lynch Confirmation Vote (Updated)
Updated 1:23 p.m. | Frustrated with the pace of Loretta Lynch’s confirmation process, Senate Democrats are ramping up pressure on Republicans to schedule floor consideration of the president’s pick to replace outgoing Attorney General Eric H. Holder Jr.
They are circulating a letter to Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., saying the nomination of the Brooklyn-based U.S. attorney to be the nation’s chief law enforcement officer has already been pending for 117 days and it should be called up swiftly. Sen. Charles E. Schumer, D-N.Y., told reporters that the entire Democratic caucus had signed on.
“As our nation’s top law enforcement official, the Attorney General plays a pivotal role in administering our nation’s laws and protecting our national security. This is why the Senate, regardless of the party in control, has historically given swift consideration to Attorney General nominees,” says the letter drafted by Senate Democrats which was obtained ahead of official release. “We ask you to similarly consider Ms. Lynch’s nomination without further delay.”
Of course, Democrats controlled the Senate during last year’s post-election lame-duck session when President Barack Obama first announced that he was selecting Lynch to succeed Holder, but then-Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., opted against speeding the Lynch nomination to he floor before he lost the ability to set the schedule.
“I wish that the nomination had been made in the summer. It was very clear that the Republicans, had we had a confirmation hearing, would have blocked everything else,” Judiciary ranking member Patrick J. Leahy, D-Vt., told reporters Thursday.
Leahy said that there was “a very good trade-off” in getting a backlog of nominees to lifetime positions on the federal bench confirmed.
In late January, Sen. Ted Cruz, R-Texas, put the fate of the Lynch nomination squarely in McConnell’s court, suggesting that maybe he shouldn’t even bring the nomination to the floor in response to her views about Obama’s executive actions on immigration.
A trio of Republican senators on the Judiciary Committee backed Lynch’s nomination at that level. Nominations to executive branch positions require only a simple majority to get past a filibuster.
The full text of the draft letter to McConnell:
Dear Leader McConnell,
We urge you to act quickly to schedule a floor vote on the nomination of Loretta Lynch to be the next Attorney General of the United States. As our nation’s top law enforcement official, the Attorney General plays a pivotal role in administering our nation’s laws and protecting our national security. This is why the Senate, regardless of the party in control, has historically given swift consideration to Attorney General nominees. We ask you to similarly consider Ms. Lynch’s nomination without further delay.
President Obama nominated Ms. Lynch nearly fourth months ago, and many members of the Senate are already familiar with Ms. Lynch’s impressive background. During her confirmation hearings in January, Republicans and Democrats praised Ms. Lynch’s reputation as a tough, fair, and independent prosecutor for her work as the United States Attorney for the Eastern District of New York. Furthermore, the Senate has already twice unanimously confirmed Ms. Lynch for her current role in 2000 and in 2010 after her nomination was thoroughly vetted and considered by the Judiciary Committee. Ms. Lynch has been a trailblazer throughout her legal career and, if confirmed, she will make history as the first African American woman to lead the Department of Justice.
Ms. Lynch was reported out of the Senate Judiciary Committee with bipartisan support and her nomination is currently pending on the executive calendar. No one questions that Ms. Lynch is qualified and ready to serve, yet we are troubled that her nomination continues to languish on the Senate floor. As of this writing, Ms. Lynch’s nomination has been pending for 117 days, making her the longest pending Attorney General nominee in three decades. Although a narrow minority of the Senate may want to use Ms. Lynch’s floor vote to protest the immigration enforcement priorities announced last year by the Administration, there is simply no credible reason for further delay. Our nation faces daily threats to our national security and we cannot afford to wait any longer to confirm our nation’s top law enforcement official.
Confirming Loretta Lynch as our nation’s next Attorney General must be a priority for the Senate. We are ready to work with you to ensure a swift vote on this nomination, and we hope you will schedule a floor vote without further delay.
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