The vote on the nomination of Loretta Lynch as the U.S. attorney general took a huge leap forward on April 21, when U.S. Senate leaders agreed to terms on an anti-human trafficking bill. The bill, “The Justice for Victims of Trafficking,” had abortion restrictions that the Democrats thought were unacceptable but those issues were resolved when a compromise, negotiated by Sens. Patty Murray (D-Wash.) and John Cornyn (R-Texas), was reached.
The anti-trafficking bill had nothing to do with the Lynch nomination but Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) said several weeks ago that her confirmation process won’t move forward until there was an agreement on the legislation.
Lynch, who would be the first Black woman to be the nation’s chief law enforcement officer, has had to wait more than five months-a record-for a Senate floor vote on that position.
McConnell said that her process will proceed.
“As soon as we finish the trafficking bill, as I’ve indicated for some time now, we’ll move to the president’s nominee for attorney general-hopefully in the next day or so,” the senator said.
Senate Minority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) concurred with McConnell.
“So let’s get rid of this quickly,” Reid said. “Let’s get Loretta Lynch confirmed quickly and move on to other matters.”
President Obama, who selected Lynch to replace U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder late last year, chastised the Senate for the holdup.
“Enough. Enough,” Obama said on April 17.
“Call Loretta Lynch for a vote, get her confirmed, put her in place, let her do her job. This is embarrassing.”
Lynch is the U.S. Attorney for the Eastern District of New York. She has been praised in legal and political circles for her work in prosecuting terrorism, public officials’ misconduct and police brutality cases.
Lynch holds a bachelor’s degree from Harvard College, which she got in 1981 and a 1984 law degree from the Harvard University School of Law.
On Feb. 26, Lynch’s nomination was sent to the Senate floor by the Senate Fight Judiciary Committee by a 12-8 vote. All of the Democrats on the committee supported her nomination and three Republicans, Sens. Orrin Hatch (R-Utah), Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) and Jeff Flake (R-Ariz.) voted for her also.
Lynch has also gained the support of Sens. Susan Collins (R-Maine) and Mark Kirk (R-Ill.). Former Republican New York Mayor Rudolph Giuliani, a harsh critic of Obama, supports Lynch also.
It is believed by civil rights groups and political observers that Lynch has enough votes to win confirmation.
Hilary O. Shelton, the NAACP Washington Bureau director and senior vice president for advocacy, sent out an action alert on April 21 to its members stating that a vote on Lynch is tentatively set for April 23. Shelton advised NAACP members to call their senators to demand they vote “yes” on Lynch.
On April 22, member of Alpha Phi Alpha Fraternity marched to the Senate office buildings to visit senators in support of Lynch. The fraternity members made it a point to go to the office of Sen. Tim Scott (R-S.C.), the only Black Republican in that body who, according to his spokesman, has not announced his decision on Lynch’s nomination.
Later that day, House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) was joined by members of the Congressional Black Caucus and leaders of civil rights organizations called for a quick vote on Lynch. Even D.C. Mayor Muriel Bowser (D) weighed in on the matter responding to a tweet from House Minority Whip Steny Hoyer (D-Md.).
“My friend Steny Hoyer has it right,” the mayor tweeted on April 21. “It is time for the Senate to confirm Lynch.”