President Barack Obama accused Senate Republicans of holding his attorney general nominee Loretta Lynch “hostage”, saying it is inexcusable to use her in order to bargain for separate legislation.
The Lynch nomination has been languishing for over 130 days and Republicans created another problem for the nomination this week by saying she would not get a vote until a human trafficking legislation vote was passed. The Bill faces Democrat opposition due to anti-abortion language it uses.
“You don’t hold attorney general nominees hostage for other issues,” Obama told The Huffington Post in an interview about the attorney general appointment problem.
“This is our top law enforcement office. Nobody denies that she’s well-qualified. We need to go ahead and get her done.”
The president’s comments were essentially a call to arms to Senate Democrats to stand firm rather than surrender to the hostage-takers, i.e., Senate Republicans, on the trafficking bill, the Huffington Post reported.
On Wednesday, Sen. Dick Durbin (D-Ill.) went after his GOP colleagues for the delay in voting on Lynch, suggesting that they were treating her differently because of her race.
“Loretta Lynch, the first African-American woman nominated to be attorney general, is asked to sit in the back of the bus when it comes to the Senate calendar,” said Durbin. “That is unfair. It’s unjust. It is beneath the decorum and dignity of the U.S. Senate.”
“I think race certainly can be considered a major factor in the delay,” said Rep. G.K. Butterfield (D-N.C.), chair of the Congressional Black Caucus, on Tuesday.
Obama, however, was less convinced about Republican motivations.
“I don’t know about that,” the president said on Friday, referring to the role that race may have played in delaying Lynch’s confirmation. Instead, he pointed to “Senate dysfunction” and “stubbornness on the part of Republicans to move nominees, period.”
“What I do know is that she is eminently qualified. Nobody denies it,” Obama said. “Even the Republicans acknowledge she’s been a great prosecutor. She has prosecuted terrorists in New York, she has gone after organized crime, she’s gone after public corruption. Her integrity is unimpeachable. By all accounts, she’s a great manager, and the fact that she has now been lingering in this limbo for longer than the five previous attorney general nominees combined makes no sense. We need to go ahead and get this done.”
Source: The Huffington Post