Senate infighting may delay the final vote on Loretta Lynch, President Barack Obama’s nominee to replace Attorney General Eric Holder, until after Easter, rankling Democrats eager to see Lynch’s confirmation, according to Politico
The hang-up is an anti-human trafficking bill that Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell says must get resolved before the vote on Lynch, who is expected to be confirmed. Democrats have vowed to filibuster the measure unless an abortion-related provision is removed from it.
The New York Times
reports that the provision would prohibit criminal fines collected in a victims’ fund from being used to pay for abortions.
Thus far, the sides are at a stalemate.
Senate Minority Leader Harry Reid accused McConnell — who has vowed to continue holding votes on the anti-human trafficking bill despite the abortion language — of wasting another week, while members of the GOP defend their resolve.
"I think there’s great virtue in trying to stop human trafficking. I kind of feel that that’s more important than some other issue," Arizona Sen. John McCain told Politico. "Loretta Lynch will be fine. The young women who are being sexually trafficked now and mistreated are not going to be fine. It’s disgraceful what the Democrats are doing, and they should be ashamed."
If confirmed, Lynch would be the first black woman to be the country’s top law enforcement officer. She currently serves as the United States attorney for the Eastern District of New York.
On Tuesday, the head of the Congressional Black Caucus said Lynch's race, and the influence of the tea party, contributed to the delay on her confirmation.
"Never ever did we expect that it would take four months in order to get this done," North Carolina Rep. G.K. Butterfield said on a conference call, according to CNN
. "So then one must wonder, what are the reasons? I think race certainly can be considered as a major factor in the reason for this delay, but it's also the irrationality of the new Republicans."
White House spokesman Josh Earnest characterized the delay as "political obstruction from Republicans."
According to a spokesman for Reid, Lynch’s drawn-out confirmation
— 159 days as of Tuesday — "is the longest since 1985, when the Senate took more than a year to confirm President Ronald Reagan's nominee, Edwin Meese."
If the impasse cannot be resolved, Politico reports that Lynch’s confirmation vote could have to wait until after the Senate’s two-week Easter recess.
Without offering details, Reid said Wednesday that "there’s work being done to take the abortion language out," of the measure, "and that impetus is coming from Republicans."
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