After five months of unnecessary, politically-motivated waiting, yet more delays may be ahead for Loretta Lynch and her nomination as attorney general. On Thursday, Senate Minority Leader Harry Reid told Rachel Maddow on MSNBC that he has the power to "force a vote" on Lynch's nomination, and called on Republicans in Congress to get a vote scheduled once and for all.
... We’ve put up with this far too long and we’re going to need to have a vote on her very soon that’s created by Mitch McConnell or I’ll create one. I can still do that.
Since Lynch's nomination has been pending for so long, the minority leader has authority to move ahead with it under current Senate rules, according to MSNBC. But that might be setting up yet another battle with Republicans and Democrats in Congress over procedural issues that are bogging down legislation on several fronts.
A spokeswoman for Republican Sen. Charles Grassley of Iowa, chairman of the judiciary committee, told The Los Angeles Times that Reid had shown Lynch's nomination was "not a priority," while he was still majority leader. President Obama nominated Lynch for the AG job back in November, a few weeks after Eric Holder announced his resignation. Last month Obama expressed his frustration that Lynch's nomination was still in limbo.
But Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell has refused to move ahead with Lynch's nomination until a human trafficking bill was moved through Congress. The human trafficking bill has no relation whatsoever to Lynch's nomination, but that bill also has been stalled because of squabbling over some buried anti-abortion language in the legislation. There's no real reason Congress couldn't consider both actions at once, critics have pointed out.
Even more, a vote scheduled for Thursday on the trafficking bill was pulled back, The LA Times reported, and that bill itself might face delays, as Congress shifts its attention to another piece of important legislation: a deal that would reduce sanctions on Iran in exchange for reduction in Iran's nuclear capabilities. Congress fought hard with the White House to be included in the framework nuclear deal worked out by the U.S. and six other countries, but even Iran's president has scoffed at Congress' involvement.
The eminently qualified Lynch would make history as the first African-American woman attorney general. She's been delayed longer than almost any other nominee for that post, but hopefully Reid's determination that she shouldn't wait any longer will motivate some of his colleagues to finally take some action. Reid said on the Senate floor Thursday that he's committed to moving Lynch's nomination ahead, The New York Times reported. "I want everyone to know that Loretta Lynch’s nomination will not remain in purgatory forever," Reid said.
But until Congress can figure out how to do more than one thing at a time, apparently, Lynch's nomination remains stalled.
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