In late 2007, then-President George W. Bush’s Attorney General nominee, Michael Mukasey, was approved by the Senate Judiciary Committee, at which point Republican senators demanded a vote.
“Judge Mukasey has waited almost seven weeks for a vote,” then-Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) said at the time. “This process has gone on long enough.”
That was nearly a decade ago. Now, Loretta Lynch A.G. nomination has been waiting 142 days – more than 20 weeks – and Mitch McConnell believes the process should drag on even longer. Indeed, with the Senate giving itself time off this week and next, Lynch will have waited more than 22 weeks by the time the chamber gets back to work in mid-April.
The New York Times reports that when it comes to replacing Eric Holder, the Senate Republican majority doesn’t actually want to defeat Lynch, so much as they want to avoid voting for her.
Senate Republicans bolted for a two-week spring recess with the confirmation of Loretta E. Lynch as attorney general in jeopardy, and themselves in a quandary: Accept a qualified nominee they oppose because she backs President Obama’s policies or reject her and live with an attorney general they despise, Eric H. Holder Jr. […]Senator Mitch McConnell of Kentucky, the majority leader, now finds himself in the conundrum that has bedeviled his counterpart in the House, Speaker John A. Boehner of Ohio: Members of his party will vote no on Ms. Lynch but hope “yes” – that she will squeak through.
The article quoted Sen. Thom Tillis (R-N.C.) conceding that President Obama is going to “nominate someone who’s most likely aligned with his policy positions,” but Tillis is opposed to Lynch. Sen. Shelley Moore Capito (R-W.Va.) added that she could hardly expect a better nominee, “not in terms of qualifications or personal attributes.”
But Capito will also vote no.
It’s reached a point that’s practically farcical – Republicans can’t find anything wrong with Lynch; they’re impressed with Lynch’s qualifications and background; they believe she’s more than capable of doing the job; and they’d be pleased to see Lynch replace Holder.
They just don’t want to vote for her.
The last head count suggests there are only four GOP senators – Susan Collins, Jeff Flake, Lindsey Graham, and Orrin Hatch – who would confirm Lynch. Those four, when combined with the 46-member Senate Democratic caucus, should get Lynch to 50, with Vice President Biden breaking the tie.
This arithmetic was made slightly more complicated last week, however, when Sen. Bob Menendez (D-N.J.), facing a possible criminal indictment on corruption charges, said he might abstain from voting, which would leave Lynch one vote short.
Graham said late last week that he thinks Lynch may yet pick up “a couple more” Republican backers, with Mark Kirk, Dean Heller, and Lisa Murkowski receiving the most attention.
In the meantime, as Rachel noted on the show on Friday, “Free Eric Holder” bracelets have become a lovely fashion accessory.