Confirmation Of New Attorney General Likely To Be Delayed Until 2015

President Obama Announces Loretta Lynch As His Nominee For Attorney General

Democrats are telling The Hill that confirmation of President Obama’s choice to replace Eric Holder as Attorney General will likely wait until the new Congress convenes in January:

President Obama will have to get his nominee for attorney general past a Republican-controlled Senate, Democratic and Republican aides say.

A packed schedule after the election is almost certain to push the vetting process for Loretta Lynch into January, when Republicans are set to take power in the upper chamber.

“It seems likely [the Lynch vote] would be in the next Congress. It’s difficult to process an [attorney general] that quickly,” said a Democratic aide.

Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) has not yet made a decision on whether to move Lynch’s nomination in the lame-duck session, according to spokesman Adam Jentleson.

But aides say the time crunch and growing GOP opposition to Lynch make it exceedingly unlikely that the replacement for Eric Holder will be confirmed in December.

That means the task of approving a new attorney general — a position that is a lightning rod for controversy — will fall to the new Republican majority of Sen. Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.).

“Ms. Lynch will receive fair consideration by the Senate. And her nomination should be considered in the new Congress through regular order,” McConnell said in a statement.

Senate Republicans are unified against Lynch’s nomination moving through the lame-duck session, giving Reid another incentive to postpone it.

Reid needs Republican cooperation to pass other priorities in December, including an omnibus spending bill, a package extending a variety of expired tax cuts, the Defense Department authorization bill and dozens of lower-profile nominees.

In addition to that legislative to-do list, Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Patrick Leahy (D-Vt.) is insisting on passing an overhaul of the National Security Agency (NSA) before the clock runs out on the Democratic majority. Leahy’s committee is tasked with vetting Lynch’s nomination.

“Leahy says he wants to do the NSA reform bill before doing anything else in committee so it bottles that up,” the Democratic aide said. “Lynch is a very qualified nominee and should be confirmed no matter who is in charge.”

If confirmed, Lynch would be the first African-American woman to serve as attorney general. The Senate has already confirmed her twice to serve as U.S. attorney for the Eastern District of New York, the post she holds currently.

Leahy on Monday predicted Lynch would ultimately win broad bipartisan support, regardless of when the confirmation vote occurs.

“I think most people would agree that this nominee is extremely well qualified. There may be some who feel they have to vote no simply because it’s a nominee by President Obama, but the vast majority of Republicans and Democrats will vote for her,” Leahy said on MSNBC. “She’s superbly qualified.”

A Judiciary Committee aide said Leahy’s NSA reform bill — known as the USA Freedom Act — has been sent straight to the Senate floor so it doesn’t have to undergo a time-consuming markup and vote in committee.

Still, the Judiciary aide said Leahy wouldn’t make the call on how long it will take to process Lynch’s nomination until the White House submits her files to the Senate.

“We don’t have paperwork for Loretta Lynch. We still have to review her background materials,” the aide said.

The Judiciary aide said Leahy would give careful consideration to the views of the ranking Republican on Judiciary, Sen. Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa), about when to move Lynch’s nomination. Grassley prefers that Lynch come up for a vote in the new Congress — when the Judiciary panel will be under his command.

“He’s not somebody who’s going to jam people,” the Judiciary aide said of Grassley.

Sen. Orrin Hatch (Utah), a senior Republican member and former chairman of the Judiciary Committee, warned in a Friday op-ed that Democrats should not try to rush Lynch’s nomination through in the compressed timeline after the elections.

“Properly considering a nominee to such a significant position as attorney general requires a full and fair process, something that is particularly hard to do in a post-election ‘lame-duck’ session,” Hatch wrote in The Washington Times.

“No one has been nominated and confirmed to be attorney general in a lame-duck session since before the Civil War,” he added.

Sen. John Thune (S.D.), the third-ranking member of the Senate Republican leadership, said on CNN Sunday that, “it would be in the best interest in the country and the Congress to wait and do this next year.”

Given the fact that Eric Holder has said that he will say on the job until a successor is confirmed, and that there is no significant rush to confirm anyone at this time, I think that waiting until the new Congress convenes is the wise decision. At most, that will be a matter of weeks and, considering the work that will need to be done to prepare for hearings there just doesn’t seem to be enough time to get this done before the 113th Congress gavels itself out of existence.

FILED UNDER: Congress, Law and the Courts, US Politics, , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,
Doug Mataconis
About Doug Mataconis
Doug Mataconis held 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 and contributed a staggering 16,483 posts before his retirement in January 2020. He passed far too young in July 2021.


  1. Jenos Idanian #13 says:

    While getting Holder out of office should be a priority, I don’t think he can do much more harm before Ms. Lynch is properly vetted.

  2. C. Clavin says:

    I think Issa still has enough time to investigate Holder a couple more times…and find nothing a couple more times…before the new AG is confirmed.
    100 subpoenas…and bubkis.

  3. MikeSJ says:

    If the Republicans refuse to appove any nominee for the AG position can President Obama appoint an acting AG for the remainder of his term?

    I do have the suspicion there are a number of Republicans who will do anything possible to derail this administation and if that means crippling Government for the next two years by blocking every single appointment, they’ll happily do it.

  4. al-Ameda says:

    Sen. Orrin Hatch (Utah), a senior Republican member and former chairman of the Judiciary Committee, warned in a Friday op-ed that Democrats should not try to rush Lynch’s nomination through in the compressed timeline after the elections.

    Isn’t Hatch is the senator from the movie “Weekend at Bernie’s”?

  5. wr says:

    They need time to figure out why Benghazi!!! was her fault.

  6. superdestroyer says:

    One has to wonder about people who want to be cabinet members for short periods of time. Does being able to put that in your obituary and on your resume for private sector jobs really worth it? It will take Ms. Lynch several months to get up to speed and nothing will happen in the last six to nine months of the Obama Adminstration. So why take a job that has a useful life of about a year?

  7. C. Clavin says:

    Because it’s a single party country?

  8. al-Ameda says:


    So why take a job that has a useful life of about a year?

    I’ too have often wondered why the entire Republican House Delegation doesn’t resign en masse.

  9. C. Clavin says:

    The Republican delegation doesn’t have a useful job.

  10. Tyrell says:

    Nice hair !