Republicans delay vote on attorney general nominee Loretta Lynch

Senate Republicans Thursday delayed a vote on attorney general nominee Loretta Lynch for two weeks

Senate Republicans on Thursday delayed a committee vote on attorney general nominee Loretta Lynch for two weeks, provoking outrage from Democrats who said her nomination has been pending “longer than any modern attorney general nominee.”

Lynch was nominated by President Obama on Nov. 8,  six weeks after Atty. Gen. Eric H. Holder Jr. announced he was stepping down.

Many had urged Obama to move more quickly so that his nominee could be approved before the new Senate took over in January, but the administration instead waited until after the midterm congressional elections on Nov. 4, when Republicans won control of the Senate.

She was renominated Jan. 7.

Sen. Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa), the new chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee, moved quickly to hold hearings on Lynch at the end of January, but announced Thursday that there would be a delay on the vote to seek responses from Lynch to senators’ questions. The delay is only for a week, but the Senate will be in recess next week, leading to a two-week hiatus.

Such delays have been common practice by the committee in the past, but, according to Sen. Patrick Leahy (D-Vt.), the top Democrat on the committee, not usually for attorney general nominations.

While applauding Republicans for moving forward Thursday to approve Ashton Carter as Defense secretary, Leahy said, “It is a disappointment that this morning, Republicans on the Judiciary Committee chose to hold over for two weeks another critical Cabinet nomination.”

Carter was originally nominated Dec. 5, a month after Lynch, and was approved by the Senate by an overwhelming vote Thursday, which Leahy said made it clear that the Republicans could have done the same for Lynch.

Sen. Orrin Hatch (R-Utah), who supports Lynch, said Wednesday that he did not understand why Democrats were creating a “fuss” about a common procedural delay.

While there is little controversy about Lynch's record, Republicans have used her confirmation hearings to complain about Holder and also President Obama’s policies on immigration. Her eventual confirmation, after a committee vote now scheduled for Feb. 26, seems assured.

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