It’s now been more than six months since Eric Holder announced his retirement, yet he’s still U.S. Attorney General. President Obama nominated Loretta Lynch as his replacement in November, but the Senate has been inexplicably avoiding the vote to confirm her nomination. A vote hasn’t even been scheduled, leaving the U.S. Justice Department in a strange, unprecedented period of limbo.
According to CNN, the time between the Senate Judiciary Committee’s vote to confirm and the full Senate vote has lasted longer than the eight previous nominees for Attorney General combined. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell has yet to give reasonable justification for the failure to schedule a vote, but it appears to be a method of delaying the inevitable. By most estimations, Lynch has the votes necessary for a successful confirmation. Without the actual vote, however, Holder will remain in office and Lynch’s takeover will be unnecessarily delayed.
Senate Republicans have expressed some valid concerns for delaying Lynch’s vote. In an article published on Politico, Sen. Ted Cruz cited Lynch’s refusal to answer questions about employing drone strikes on U.S. soil and placing GPS trackers on people’s cars as reasons for Congress to vote no. Lynch is seen as an extension of many of Holder’s previous policies, and those who are in favor of change have the right to express those concerns. But they should be expressing them in the form of a vote, not by delaying her confirmation. The Senate Judiciary Committee already refused to take Cruz's desire to block Lynch into consideration, making this delay even more unnecessary.
The delay in Lynch’s confirmation is reminiscent of the time the GOP tried to stall the Affordable Care Act. As the Huffington Post reports (and Cruz in his article), a major reason Republicans oppose Lynch is for her views on Obama’s expected immigration reform. Despite having no real plan to solve the country’s immigration problems themselves, the GOP is frightened that Obama will use his executive action to make changes to the system. Delaying Lynch's confirmation is one way of making a political statement against that action.
The Obama administration has less than two years left in office. That shouldn’t be a reason to confirm any candidate the president brings before Congress, but Lynch is more than qualified to succeed Holder. Delaying the vote also does little good other than allowing Republicans to make their point about immigration and other issues relating to the Justice Department. Any other candidate Obama chooses will likely support the same executive action on immigration, as would Holder if he’s forced to remain in office. The delay in Lynch’s vote is utterly pointless, and yet another reflection of the pettiness that continues to plague American politics.
Photo Credit: CNN