The White House’s frustration over Senate Republicans’ handling of Loretta Lynch’s nomination is becoming more obvious. President Obama used his latest weekly address to urge senators to be responsible towards the highly qualified Attorney General nominee, and in an interview Friday with Sam Stein, the president said, “You don’t hold attorney general nominees hostage for other issues. This is our top law enforcement office.”
The Senate’s GOP majority evidently feels differently. Bloomberg News reported last night:
U.S. attorney general nominee Loretta Lynch probably won’t get a Senate confirmation vote until at least mid-April, five months after she was nominated, because the chamber plans to spend this week debating its budget proposal.“Budget all week,” Don Stewart, a spokesman for Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, said in an e-mail Monday when asked whether the Senate would vote on Lynch before taking a two-week spring break until April 13.
White House Press Secretary Josh Earnest told reporters yesterday, “The continued delay is unconscionable.”
Note, the problem is not that Republicans have imposed a blanket blockade on all confirmation votes. On the contrary, since Lynch was approved by the Senate Judiciary Committee with bipartisan support on Feb. 26, the GOP majority has confirmed four Obama administration nominees, including one yesterday. Republicans have also allowed Defense Secretary Ashton Carter’s nomination to reach the floor, despite the fact that Carter was nominated after Lynch.
But the A.G. nominee, for reasons Republicans have struggled to explain, is being denied an up-or-down vote, even though Lynch appears to have the votes necessary for confirmation.
All of this has unfolded despite Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell’s (R-Ky.) public vow that he would allow a vote on Lynch last week – a commitment he has since broken.
As of this morning, Lynch was nominated 136 days ago. As we discussed last week, the first African-American woman ever considered for this post has waited longer for a vote than any A.G. nominee in history, and longer than the last five A.G. nominees combined. Even her fiercest critics have failed to raise substantive objections to her qualifications, background, temperament, or judgment.
And at this point, with the chamber focused on budget issues this week, and senators poised to give themselves another two-week break, it’s likely Lynch won’t see a vote until mid-April at the earliest. As ridiculous as this might seem, it’s no longer outlandish to wonder whether Senate Republicans will keep Eric Holder on as A.G. through January 2017.
For more on this, here’s Rachel’s segment from Friday, in case you missed it.