Loretta Lynch listens during her confirmation hearing before the Senate Judiciary Committee Jan. 28, 2015 in Washington, DC.
Photo by Brendan Smialowski/AFP/Getty

Senate fight turns fiery over Loretta Lynch nomination delay

Updated

The protracted nomination of would-be Attorney General Loretta Lynch has taken yet another dive into the nasty business of Senate politics.

Sen. John McCain, an Arizona Republican, demanded an apology from Sen. Minority Whip Dick Durbin on Thursday for comments he made relating the GOP’s efforts to stall Lynch’s confirmation to Jim Crow segregation.

“That is unfair. It’s unjust. It is beneath the decorum and dignity of the United States Senate.”
Sen. Dick Durbin
Durbin said Lynch, the first African-American woman nominated to be attorney general, was being asked to “sit in the back of the bus” as Senate Republicans delay her confirmation in lieu of an unpassable and partisan human trafficking bill embedded with a sticky abortion amendment.

“That is unfair. It’s unjust. It is beneath the decorum and dignity of the United States Senate,” Durbin said.

On Thursday McCain blasted back, outraged at Durbin’s intimation that race is a factor in the stall.

“What is beneath the decorum and dignity of the United States Senate, I would say to the senator from Illinois, is for him to come to this floor and use that imagery and suggest that racist tactics are being employed to delay Ms. Lynch’s confirmation vote,” McCain said. “Such inflammatory rhetoric has no place in this body and serves no purpose other than to further divide us.”

Durbin swung back, questioning why Lynch, whose record as a federal prosecutor is unblemished and who sailed through unscathed during her confirmation hearing, has waited the longest of any attorney general nominee in modern history – 131 days, twice as long as Attorney General Eric Holder.

“Why?” Durbin asked. “I sat in the hearing, the Senate Judiciary Committee hearing, for this nominee Loretta Lynch. There were no questions raised of any nature of any kind questioning her ability to serve as attorney general, none.”

RELATED: The GOP is holding Loretta Lynch’s confirmation hostage. Is race to blame?

The prolonged nomination process has irked the White House, Democrats and black leaders on and off Capitol Hill who say partisan politics is partly to blame but believe race is also a factor.

The White House has sidestepped the race debate and instead has opted to focus on the unprecedented nature of the wait. Lynch has waited longer to be confirmed than the previous five attorney generals combined.

Justice Department and Loretta Lynch

Senate fight turns fiery over Loretta Lynch nomination delay

Updated