Why Is Loretta Lynch Still Waiting?

by Becca Stanek

Loretta Lynch was supposed to be the attorney general by now. Nearly six months ago, current Attorney General Eric Holder announced that he would be resigning from his role, pending confirmation of his successor. That was on Sept. 25, 2014. Just weeks later, on Nov. 8, 2014, President Obama nominated Brooklyn attorney Lynch as Holder’s replacement. Yet, at this point in time, Holder is still toiling away as attorney general, while Lynch sits on the sideline just waiting for Republican leaders to schedule a vote to approve her nomination. But why hasn't Loretta Lynch been confirmed as attorney general yet?

Lynch’s 131-day wait is significant for a couple of reasons. Firstly, this is the longest any attorney general has had to wait since 1985, when the Senate took over a year to confirm Edwin Meese, The Atlantic reports. The other notable part of Lynch’s conundrum, as The Atlantic points out, is that the reason for the hold up really isn’t so clear. There’s no scandal and no one person is particularly against her. Moreover, the GOP actually prefers Lynch to Holder, who Republicans have previously called upon to resign. Lynch is expected to have the votes to be confirmed as attorney general.

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So, what’s the hold up? More or less, it all boils down to politics — and the Republican’s contempt for Obama, not Lynch. According to The Washington Examiner, Lynch’s wait can largely be attributed to her stances on immigration. For example, Sen. Bob Corker, one Republican who opposes Lynch, said that his main issue with her is her support for Obama’s executive actions on immigration. In a Senate Judiciary Committee hearing in January, Lynch expressed her support for the president’s executive actions and for immigrants to work in the U.S. Lynch said at the Jan. 28 hearing:

I believe that the right and the obligation to work is one that’s shared by everyone in this country regardless of how they came here.

And then, finally, the vote on Lynch was slated and it seemed like her long wait might finally be coming to end. But on Sunday, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Kentucky) announced that the Senate would not move forward in the nomination of Lynch until a completely unrelated stalled human trafficking bill was sorted out. Democrats largely supported the trafficking bill until they discovered an anti-abortion provision tucked in.

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McConnell’s announcement elicited some heated responses. One Democrat, Sen. Dick Durbin (D-Illinois) argued that the nomination and the stalled bill were totally unrelated and demanded that the vote take place immediately. Durbin said on the Senate floor:

The Republican Majority Leader announced over the weekend that he was going to hold this nomination of Loretta Lynch until the bill, which is pending before the Senate passes, whenever that may be. And so Loretta Lynch, the first African-American woman nominated to be attorney general, is asked to sit in the back of the bus when it comes to the Senate calendar. That is unfair. It’s unjust. It is beneath the decorum and dignity of the United States Senate. This woman deserves fairness.

Politico reports that some are trying to spin the Republican’s stall the nomination on Lynch as an example of the party’s racism and sexism. But, honestly, it just seems like a lot of politics. Unfortunately for Lynch, the longer the wait continues, the more the vote that once seemed like it would be easy becomes an increasingly partisan conversation.

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