161 Days Later, The Senate Still Hasn’t Voted On Loretta Lynch’s Nomination

The confirmation of a new Attorney General has been held up nearly six months for what amounts to no legitimate reason.

President Obama Announces Loretta Lynch As His Nominee For Attorney General

As of today, it has been 161 days since President Obama nominated Loretta Lynch, currently the United States Attorney for the Eastern District of New York, to replace Eric Holder as Attorney General. Given that the appointment was made just days after the 2014 election and the fact that there were strong substantive objections to cramming a confirmation process into the short lame duck period before the end of the years, consideration of that nomination was delayed until the new Senate, controlled by Republicans, convened in January. At first, it seemed as though the confirmation process would go smoothly. Nobody seemed to disagree with the idea that Lynch, who is serving in her second stint as U.S. Attorney, was qualified for the position professionally, and she quickly received endorsements from several top Republicans, including former New York City Mayor Rudy Giuliani. Very quickly, though, the Lynch nomination became mired down in politics even more than many expected it to be. When Lynch told Judiciary Committee members that she believed that the President’s November executive action on immigration was legal and proper, many conservatives called for her to be defeated. Since then, others on the right have been using the Lynch nomination to attack the Obama Administration’s position on civil asset forfeiture, and the nomination has also been delayed by the Senate’s consideration of a human trafficking bill that is being held up by Democratic objections to language dealing with abortion.

With all that controversy, it was somewhat surprising to see Jeb Bush come out in favor of not only putting Lynch’s nomination on the floor, but in favor on confirming her as Attorney General as well:

Jeb Bush says that the Senate should confirm the nomination of Loretta Lynch, President Barack Obama’s choice for attorney general. A number of Senate Republicans oppose her nomination.

“I think presidents have the right to pick their team,” Bush said, according to reports of his stop at the “Politics and Pie” forum in Concord, New Hampshire, on Thursday night.

The former Florida governor made sure to get in a few digs at current Attorney General Eric Holder, saying that Republicans should consider that the longer it takes to confirm Lynch, the longer Holder stays.

A Senate fight over a sex-trafficking bill that includes a controversial abortion provision has held up Lynch’s nomination for 160 days since Obama announced his choice last Nov. 8, but Minority Leader Sen. Harry Reid (D-Nev.) is threatening to break protocol and force a vote on the Senate floor.

“If someone is supportive of the president’s policies, whether you agree with them or not, there should be some deference to the executive,” Bush told reporters. “It should not always be partisan.”

Generally, I agree with the position that Bush is taking here.

At the very least, there doesn’t seem to me to be any reason not ultimately rooted in partisan politics to block Lynch’s nomination from coming to an up-or-down vote on the Senate floor. As I said, Lynch is qualified for the position, there are no allegations of ethical lapses that would constitute a bar to her serving in the office to which she’s been appointed. Based on the public statements of Senators, it is clear that she would be easily confirmed if a vote was taken. No Republican in the Senate is obligated to vote in favor of her, of course, and it is entirely appropriate to use her nomination to voice concerns about issues such as civil asset forfeiture and other Justice Department policies. However, in the end nobody should be surprised that the President has appointed someone to his cabinet who agrees with him, nor should they be surprised or shocked that she expressed the opinion that his immigration policies are acceptable under the law. Quite obviously, the President would appoint someone who agreed with his policies, to expect otherwise is either an indication that someone is incredibly naive or simply out of touch with reality.  Given that, the argument that a Cabinet appointee should be rejected solely because they agree with the policies of the President who appointed them is really rather silly.

For that reason, I tend to agree with Bush and other Republicans who have argued that Lynch should be confirmed. Loretta Lynch probably is not my ideal Attorney General. There are several issues I disagree with her, and the President on. I agree that the Federal civil asset forfeiture laws are out of control and need to be reformed. And, of course, others will find other reasons to disagree with her and the President on policy matters. Professionally, though, there’s no question that she’s qualified for the job, and on some level that ought to be enough when it comes to cabinet members. President Obama won the election. When it comes to Cabinet appointments at least, he ought to be entitled to some deference when it comes to the confirmation of on of the people who would be one his closest advisers inside the Executive Branch of the Federal Government.

What makes the Republican position on this nomination ironic, of course, is the fact that it means that Eric Holder remains as Attorney General of the United States. Of all the members of the President’s Cabinet, Holder has probably been the one subjected to the most partisan fire from Republicans on Capitol Hill over the past six years. That is exemplified most of all, of course, by the fact that he was held in contempt by the House of Representatives due to a dispute over document production regarding the investigation of the ATF’s Fast & Furious operation that led to the death of at least one Federal agent when guns ended up in the hands of Mexican drug cartels. One would think that conservatives would be eager to get Holder out of office as quickly as possible. Instead, they’ve given him an extra six months on the job and, unless they vote on the Lynch nomination soon, he’ll be there even longer.

FILED UNDER: Barack Obama, Borders and Immigration, Campaign 2016, Congress, Politicians, US Politics, , ,
Doug Mataconis
About Doug Mataconis
Doug holds a B.A. in Political Science from Rutgers University and J.D. from George Mason University School of Law. He joined the staff of OTB in May 2010. Before joining OTB, he wrote at Below The BeltwayThe Liberty Papers, and United Liberty Follow Doug on Twitter | Facebook

Comments

  1. al-Ameda says:

    President Obama won the election. When it comes to Cabinet appointments at least, he ought to be entitled to some deference when it comes to the confirmation of on of the people who would be one his closest advisers inside the Executive Branch of the Federal Government.

    It will be interesting to see if Senate Democrats afford the next Republican president the same malevolent treatment.

  2. michael reynolds says:

    Based on the photo I’m a bit concerned that Ms. Lynch appears to be growing some kind of shrub on her head.

  3. @michael reynolds:

    You would have thought that someone in Communications would have thought to move that plant off the mantle

  4. Franklin says:

    Ch-ch-ch-chia!

  5. OzarkHillbilly says:

    As I said, Lynch is qualified for the position, there are no allegations of ethical lapses that would constitute a bar to her serving in the office to which she’s been appointed.

    Wait a minute Doug, didn’t I hear somewhere that she is a Democrat?

  6. grumpy realist says:

    That’s the craziest green afro I ever did see….

  7. Pete S says:

    This is what amounts to Republican “strategy”, keeping a person they genuinely object to as Attorney General in place by not allowing a replacement who they know is qualified. These are the geniuses who are trying to exert more influence over foreign policy?

  8. @Pete S:

    So it would seem

  9. Tony W says:

    My guess is the TP folks are objecting to the nomination because it represents a lost opportunity to replace a black man (Holder) with somebody more qualified. Having lost the chance to do that in 2012, there are sour grapes.

  10. Tyrell says:

    Anyone who sings country music like she does is okay by me.

  11. Paul L. says:

    @al-Ameda:
    Someone forgot 2006.
    I am all for holding up the Nomination until all the Fast and Furious evidence is released.
    Or the Ted Steven’s prosecutors get punished by their misconduct (Never Happen).

  12. David M says:

    @Paul L.:

    I don’t think you’re remembering the Bush years very well. Mukasey was nominated for Attorney General on October 2, 2007 and he was confirmed on November 8th.

  13. Paul L. says:

    @David M:
    Mukasey was nominated because he could be confirmed by the Democrats.
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/George_W._Bush_judicial_appointment_controversies

  14. David M says:

    @Paul L.:

    And Lynch was nominated because she could be could be confirmed by the Republicans. What’s your point?

  15. al-Ameda says:

    @Paul L.:

    Mukasey was nominated because he could be confirmed by the Democrats.

    Two:
    (1) Obama should nominate a Democrat that Republicans prefer – , such as …. ?
    (2) Bush’s nominees were approved at a very high rate.

  16. David M says:

    @al-Ameda:

    It’s not a matter of nominating someone else, as more than 50 Senators are on record as supporting Lynch, so she’ll be confirmed.

  17. James P says:

    @David M:

    more than 50 Senators are on record as supporting Lynch, so she’ll be confirmed

    Not if her nomination is not brought to the floor for a vote, she won’t.

    Why should McConnell bring the nomination to the floor for a vote. What does he have to gain? He has plenty to lose by bringing the nomination to the floor, but I don’t see that he has anything to gain.

    This woman is NOT QUALIFIED. Her understanding of the law is so flawed that she thinks illegals have the same right to work as US citizens.

  18. al-Ameda says:

    @David M:

    It’s not a matter of nominating someone else, as more than 50 Senators are on record as supporting Lynch, so she’ll be confirmed.

    I understand that and agree with you.
    I was commenting to Paul, wherein his inference seems to be that Obama should nominate someone else.

  19. David in KC says:

    I have yet to hear a reasoned rationale why she shouldn’t be confirmed (at least one that doesn’t rely on taking quotes out of context or relying on Briebart). It’s kind of sad, the Republicans want to get rid of Holder, he resigns, pending confirmation of a new AG, and they can’t bring themselves to actually vote on confirming the new nominee and get rid of Holder. There has to be a psychiatric term for this.

  20. David M says:

    @David in KC:

    That would require compromise and common sense. When have we seen that from the GOP?

  21. steve says:

    Estrada and Bork were nominated for Attorney General? Nope, I double checked. The AG position is by its nature the most political of the Cabinet offices. The position will always be held by a person whose political philosophy is fairly close to the president. Refusing to confirm someone in that position for that reason means no one can ever be confirmed (unless you control 60 Senate seats). Unless, of course, you are not interested in governing. Just, what’s in it for me. (This is as opposed to SCOTUS positions where we try to pretend the positions are free of politics.)

    Steve

  22. bk says:

    @James P: Which law school did you go to?

  23. Jeremy R says:

    @al-Ameda:

    It will be interesting to see if Senate Democrats afford the next Republican president the same malevolent treatment.

    I imagine that’s exactly what was on Jeb’s mind. He likely feels he has a decent shot at the Presidency, but doesn’t particularly relish the thought of leading an administration crippled by the same level of partisan dickery as his party has wielded to hamstring the current one.

  24. superdestroyer says:

    @al-Ameda:

    Assuming that there will be another Republican president is probably not a very good assumption. The Democrats know that every demographic trend is in their favor and are slowly moving the rules to be conducive to one party rule and to increase the power of the establishment Democrats.

    What is amazing is that people believe that having Lynch serve as a lame duck Attorney General for around 18 months will have any effect on policy or governance.

  25. Larry T says:

    @James P:

    Hah!

    Dude you are the best. But whois Lois Lerner?

  26. dazedandconfused says:

    The GOP and the right developed a considerable sense of entitlement to power during the Reagan years, they felt justified to act outraged and do just about anything they could during the Clinton administration. I feel the combination of that with the white sense of entitlement to power in this country has driven them to new extremes. When only about half the people in the nation vote a small but highly energized and zealous minority can wield great power.

    It is too early to have a black President, unless a black man happened along that could rise in the ranks and became an established well-respected statesman of note before being elected to that office.

  27. OzarkHillbilly says:

    @James P:

    Her understanding of the law is so flawed that she thinks illegals have the same right to work as US citizens.

    Your understanding of language is so flawed that you completely misrepresent what the President wants to do or the legal basis for her answer. You need to read a 3rd grade history book to correct your misunderstandings of law and constitution.

  28. Bokonon says:

    @Pete S: Maybe, just maybe, the Republicans are less than sincere in their objections to Eric Holder. But he sure makes a great target.

    And the Republicans certainly love them some controversy and outrage. Since they don’t do policy or governing now, that’s really central to what they do on a daily basis on a national level (while the real hatchet work gets done in the states).

    But the Republicans can’t disengage once they have a good controversy going – the base and talk radio won’t let them (because that would be surrender, or weakness).

    So there it is. I think that the GOP is blocked into a corner where they prefer to keep Holder around then let Lynch’s nomination come to a vote. It serves their interest in keeping the federal government as paralyzed and dysfunctional as possible. And it probably helps their fundraising too. Maybe they will ride this dysfunction all the way to the next election, hollering and pointing and posturing and sending out e-mail blasts to the party faithful.

  29. Bokonon says:

    @James P:

    BHO deserves ZERO deference – none, zilch, zip, nada

    Thank you for demonstrating the problem so well. You would rather have complete legislative dysfunction and a never-ending sh!tstorm of fake, media-driven Congressional posturing than allowing Obama to … you know … operate the Executive Branch. No compromise! No surrender!

    And I suppose you think that is governing.

  30. stonetools says:

    The problem here is that the Republicans know how to street fight, and the Democrats don’t. If the situation were reversed, the Republicans would everywhere be loudly calling for an “up or down vote on a qualified nominee” and the Republican propaganda network would swing smoothly into action. Fox News pundits and right wing radio talk show hosts would be saying how un-American and treasonous it was that Senate Democrats weren’t deferring to the choice of the duly elected American President, and how coastal elites were conspiring to “thwart the will of “most of the country” ( cue to a picture of the electoral map).
    Meanwhile, what are the Democrats doing? A few liberal pundits are blogging and Twittering about this, while the rest of the so called “librul media” has been mostly silent. Meanwhile, the Administration have been content with a few muted calls plaintively asking the Republicans to take action on this “for the good of the country” or some such vague rationale.
    What should the Administration do? I would like it if Holder called a press conference Monday saying that the DOJ was thinking of looking into the possibility that the Bush Administration committed war crimes during the Iraqi War, or reopening investigations into Wall street malfeasance during the 2008 financial crisis. The Obama Administration would piously proclaim that it would defer to Holder’s discretion on this , while Ms. Lynch would issue a statement saying she and Holder differed on the wisdom of pursuing such matters. Your move, Republicans…
    Would this work? Don’t know, but calling on the Republicans to Do the Right Thing isn’t working either.

  31. stonetools says:

    @Bokonon:

    The idea that the Congressional Republicans would “forced to govern” once they obtained control of Congress or “pay a price at the ballot box” has been conclusively shown to be a product of the wishful thinking of Beltway pundits who are thinking of a bygone area. It’s rather clear that in the modern era, Republicans think that its better to pander to their base, governance be damned , lest they face a primary challenge from a “truly conservative” challenger ( see Cantor, Eric. Remember him?)

  32. Larry T says:

    @James P:
    BHO deserves ZERO deferments, THANK YOU!!! If they call you up and you don’t go you are a COWARD of the highest especially when his deferment was for COMMUNIST ORGANIZER which isn not a real class even.

    Obahomo should get his eye spit in! Spit eye is what HE deserves.

  33. Ben Wolf says:

    @James P: Disagreement with Lynch’s political views does not disqualfiy her from performing the role for which she has been nominated. I personally detest the woman for her decision to give HSBC a slap on the wrist when its executives should have received multi-decadal sentences and her overall support for a two-tiered justice system — that does not mean she should be denied an up or down vote.

  34. Neil Hudelson says:

    @Larry T:

    Ummm, dude the draft ended in 1972. When Obama was 9.

    That’s James P. level of ignorance.

  35. HarvardLaw92 says:

    People – remember – DFTFT

  36. michael reynolds says:

    @James P:

    they want to shrink

    Me too! Not all the times sometimes though. Like I feel too big and then I think if I was just a little smaller the government wouldn’t be able to find me. Do you ever feel like that hah I guess you do since you brought it up.

    I did almost drowned in a bathtub once but thats a hole other story.

    I got confused by indenting.

  37. Larry T says:

    @James P:

    they want to shrink

    Me too! Not all the times sometimes though. Like I feel too big and then I think if I was just a little smaller the government wouldn’t be able to find me. Do you ever feel like that hah I guess you do since you brought it up.

    I did almost drowned in a bathtub once but thats a hole other story.

    I got confused by indenting.