Friday marks 139 days since President Barack Obama nominated Loretta Lynch to be the next attorney general — and the clock will only keep ticking down this historic delay as the Senate begins its Easter recess on Saturday.
Lynch’s Senate confirmation to replace outgoing Attorney General Eric Holder now represents the longest wait for a designate in modern history. It has been longer than the previous seven nominees put together.
Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell has said a vote to confirm Lynch won’t happen until the Senate squares away a human trafficking bill, which is unlikely given an abortion amendment in the bill that Democrats won’t support.
Either way, Lynch, who sailed through her confirmation hearings without a blemish or objection from Republicans, is expected to eventually be confirmed by a razor-thin margin. Many Republicans have since said they won’t support her nomination because she deemed Obama’s recent executive action on immigration, which would halt some deportations, as being legal.
To be confirmed, Lynch will need at least every Democrat in the Senate and four Republicans to vote yes. That would then trigger a tie-breaker vote by Vice President Joe Biden.
Sen. Lindsey Graham, a Republican from South Carolina, said by the time Lynch’s confirmation is put up for a vote, there should be enough GOP support to avoid a Biden tie-breaker.
“I think we’re going to pick up a couple more,” Graham told The Huffington Post. The senator also said that the GOP’s anger over Obama’s immigration action should not be enough to stop a well-qualified nominee from being confirmed.
“This, to me, is a sign of the dysfunction of this place,” Graham said. “She’s qualified. Their frustration with the executive order, I share. I’d rather fight this in court.”
The GOP’s unprecedented stall has sparked anger and frustration from the White House, Lynch’s Democratic supporters, as well as women and minority groups.
If confirmed, Lynch would be the first African-American woman to serve as attorney general.
“Today the Senate is making a reckless decision to adjourn without so much as a confirmation vote on her nomination,” Wade Henderson, president of The Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights, said on Friday morning conference call with African-American, Latino and women leaders. “This mishandled and manipulated confirmation process has turned our Senate into a trainwreck.”
On Thursday, a group of about 20 black women leaders marched to McConnell’s office to demanded an answer on why Lynch hasn’t been confirmed yet. The leaders included Rep. Sheila Jackson Lee, a Democrat representing Texas, and a handful of clergy members and local elected officials.
At one point, the women bowed their heads and prayed outside of the majority leader’s office.
“If it looks like a duck and talks like a duck, it’s a duck. The duck is that she’s being treated differently,” Dr. Barbara Williams-Skinner, told reporters, outside of McConnell’s office. “That’s a standard that allows some people to call this both racist and sexist.”
In an interview with msnbc last week, Holder said the hullabaloo over Lynch’s confirmation was less about race or gender and more about Washington being Washington.
“This is really just D.C. politics, Washington at its worst,” he said.
Former House Speaker Newt Gingrich told msnbc on Thursday that what’s playing out in the Senate over Lynch’s confirmation is simply a matter of Republicans wielding their power as the majority.
“I think the Democrats have every right to block bringing up the [human trafficking] bill and as a consequence the majority leader has every right to block bringing up Loretta Lynch,” Gingrich said. “That’s the absolute nature of power in the Senate and if [Sen. Minority Leader] Harry Reid wants to be stubborn, Attorney General Holder may be there for another six months.”