Those tuning into the first day of Loretta Lynch’s confirmation hearings, looking for high drama, were probably disappointed. President Obama’s nominee to succeed Eric Holder as the nation’s Attorney General not only seemed unflappable, but Republicans didn’t seem all that interested in pressing her with tough questions.
On the contrary, GOP members of the Senate Judiciary Committee, seemingly unaware of the point of an A.G. confirmation hearing, spent much of the day “venting” about their disagreements with Holder. As the day progressed, it seemed increasingly obvious that Lynch will receive majority support in the chamber.
That’s not to say her confirmation will be unanimous.
Sen. Ted Cruz called attorney general nominee Loretta Lynch’s immigration views “dangerous” Wednesday and questioned whether Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., should even have the chamber consider her nomination.“That is the decision the majority leader is going to have to make. I believe we should use every constitutional tool available to stop the president’s unconstitutional executive action. That’s what Republicans, Republican candidates all over the country said over and over again last year,” the Texas Republican said in a brief interview with CQ Roll Call as the daylong Judiciary Committee hearing on Lynch’s nomination neared conclusion.
For the right-wing Texan, the strategy appears to be built around two main points: (1) Cruz opposes Lynch because of her own views, including her belief that President Obama’s immigration policy is permissible under the law; and (2) Cruz’s belief that if the Senate refused to confirm any nominee for the post, maybe the White House would give in and destroy its own immigration measures.
“For several months now, I’ve called for us to use every constitutional check and balance we have to rein in the president’s illegal action. That includes using the confirmation power given by the Constitution as a direct check on the executive,” Cruz added yesterday.
I think it’s safe to say this isn’t going to work. Indeed, it’s probably going to fail spectacularly.
The point isn’t that Lynch will win over far-right senators. She won’t. Sen. David Vitter (R-La.) has also vowed to at least try to tear down her nomination – his reasoning is still a little vague – and it’s likely that many of the Republican senators running for president will also oppose her, just for the sake of saying no to the president.
But when it comes to the full Senate, enough Republicans are going to come to a different realization: Lynch is obviously qualified; the right won’t like Obama’s next nominee any more than it likes her; and the longer the GOP blocks confirmation, the longer Eric Holder, whom they hate, remains as Attorney General.
In fact, John Stanton reported late yesterday that the far-right’s efforts are already failing.
Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell won’t stand in the way of Loretta Lynch’s nomination to become the next Attorney General despite pressure from conservative activists and Sen. Ted Cruz to hold up all of President Obama’s nominees until he rescinds a controversial immigration order. […][A]ccording to a senior Republican Senate aide familiar with the situation, McConnell isn’t going to stand in the way of Lynch’s nomination. “If she is reported out of the committee favorably, she’s headed to the floor for consideration,” the aide said.
I’ve never been impressed with Cruz’s ability to think strategically, but the smart move here would be to dial down the anti-Lynch initiative. It’s about picking one’s battles to maximize efficacy: if he’s going to lose, Cruz doesn’t do himself any favors picking a big, pointless fight, shortly before launching his own bid for national office, in which his own party ignores him and sides with the White House’s A.G. nominee.
Whether the Texas Republican fights on or not, Stanton added that Lynch is on track for a floor vote in two weeks and a swearing-in ceremony by the end of February.