As the week got underway, Attorney General nominee Loretta Lynch, who was nominated 145 days ago, seemed to have enough votes to be confirmed, but there was some lingering uncertainty. As of Monday, most head-counts put Lynch at 50 votes – 46 Democrats and four Republicans – which would put Vice President Biden in a position to break the tie.
But such a narrow margin left no room for error. When Sen. Bob Menendez (D-N.J.), facing federal corruption allegations, said he might abstain from voting on Lynch altogether, it raised eyebrows – if he followed through on this, the A.G. nominee would fail.
But today Lynch’s path to confirmation appears clearer. For one thing, Menendez is now on board, his criminal indictment notwithstanding.
Aides to Sen. Robert Menendez (D-N.J.), who was indicted Wednesday on federal corruption charges here, said the senator plans to support Lynch’s confirmation when it comes to the Senate floor in the coming weeks.
For another, this afternoon Lynch picked up one additional Republican supporter.
Senator Mark Kirk, Republican of Illinois, announced Thursday that he would vote to confirm Loretta E. Lynch as the next attorney general, meaning she almost certainly has the votes needed for confirmation.
Kirk, who’s facing a difficult re-election bid in a blue state next year, joins Sens. Susan Collins, Lindsey Graham, Orrin Hatch, and Jeff Flake as the only GOP members publicly committed to backing Lynch’s nomination.
Kirk’s announcement also brings Lynch’s total number of supporters to 51, eliminating the need for tie-breaking vote from Biden.
If Lynch’s nomination ever reaches the floor, that is.
Let’s not forget that Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) publicly vowed to allow the Senate to vote on the A.G. nominee the week of March 16. The Republican leader then broke his word and imposed hostage-style politics on the Lynch nomination – if Democrats wanted the Senate to consider Lynch, McConnell said, Dems would have to vote for an unrelated human-trafficking bill with anti-abortion language.
Dems, not surprisingly, balked and GOP leaders have kept the would-be Attorney General on ice ever since.
Remember, Senate Republicans have raised no substantive objections to Lynch, her background, her qualifications, her credentials or her temperament. What’s more, GOP senators have been willing to confirm other executive-branch nominees, including some who were nominated after Lynch.
And yet, here we are, watching Lynch receive Senate treatment to A.G. nominee in American history has been asked to endure. Indeed, as we discussed the other day, in the Bush/Cheney era, Mitch McConnell personally condemned Senate Democrats for delaying a vote on an A.G. nominee for seven weeks.
By the time the chamber returns to work on April 13, Loretta Lynch will have been waiting for 22 weeks.