One of the new Republican members of the Senate Judiciary Committee says next year's Senate should block President Barack Obama's attorney general nominee. Louisiana Sen. David Vitter is trying to stop the nomination of Loretta Lynch, the current U.S. Attorney based in Brooklyn, over Obama's recent executive action on immigration.
In early November, President Obama introduced U.S. Attorney Loretta Lynch as his choice to be the nation's new Attorney General, at which point Senate Democrats had a decision to make. Would the outgoing majority hurry up and try to confirm Lynch in the lame-duck session, making it more difficult to tackle other priorities, or would Dems put the nomination on the backburner, confident that Senate Republicans would eventually approve Lynch for the job?
Democrats ultimately went with the latter approach. One far-right Republican senator believes he can make Dems regret that decision.
In a press release, Vitter characterized his obstructionist plan as retribution for an immigration policy he doesn't like. "I'm looking forward to providing a check on President Obama's illegal executive amnesty," the far-right Louisianan said, adding, "We'll have the opportunity to push back on executive amnesty with one of our first major battles: the Attorney General nomination. The attorney general is one of the linchpins to Obama's amnesty plan, and I'll be working to get the new Congress to block this nomination."
No one has ever accused Vitter of having great strategic instincts, but this gambit seems unusually misguided, even for him.
For example, by most fair-minded measures, "President Obama's illegal executive amnesty" is neither illegal nor amnesty. But even if it were, blocking Loretta Lynch's nomination as part of some partisan tantrum doesn't actually advance Vitter's or his party's goals in any tangible way -- if Lynch is blocked, Obama will nominate someone else. If he or she is blocked, too, the process will start over once more.
All the while, the Obama administration's immigration policy will remain in place, and Attorney General Eric Holder will remain on the job.
The scandal-plagued Louisiana Republican sees this as "providing a check" on the White House, but defeating Lynch -- who had nothing to do with the president's immigration policy -- doesn't do anything of the sort.
So, what's the point of Vitter's self-indulgent tactics? It's hard to say for sure, but the Republican lawmaker is planning to leave the Senate next year to become Louisiana's next governor. Maybe he sees this as a way of solidifying right-wing support and scaring off potential GOP rivals?
Postscript: It's worth emphasizing that Vitter's plan may lack support from his own allies. Sen. Orrin Hatch (R-Utah) said last week Lynch is "a very top-flight person" he's inclined to support. Hatch added, "And if conservatives do want to get rid of the attorney general, this is a good option because she would replace him and do a very a good job."