Loretta Lynch became the nation’s first female African-American Attorney General today as the Senate finally voted to confirm her nomination, 56-43.
Ten Republicans sided with all Democrats in voting to confirm Lynch. The Republicans were Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY), Kelly Ayotte (NH), Orrin Hatch (UT), Lindsey Graham (SC), Susan Collins (ME), Jeff Flake (AZ), Mark Kirk (IL), Rob Portman (OH) Thad Cochran (MS), and Ron Johnson (WI). The list of Republicans who voted to confirm Lynch is dotted with senators from Blue states will be up for reelection next year. Ayotte, Kirk, Portman, and Johnson are all considered to be vulnerable incumbents.
Lindsey Graham was the only potential Republican presidential candidate in the Senate who voted for Lynch’s confirmation. Sens. Rand Paul and Marco Rubio both voted against her, but even they were better than Ted Cruz, who didn’t even bother to show up for the vote.
The Senators who voted against Lynch tried to turn her confirmation into a vote on President Obama’s immigration executive actions. Before the vote, Sen. Jeff Sessions (R-AL) said, “The Senate must never confirm an individual to such an office as this who will support and advance a scheme that violates our Constitution and eviscerates established law and Congressional authority. No person who would do that should be confirmed. And we don’t need to be apologetic about it, colleagues.”
Before the vote, Senate Minority Leader Harry Reid summed up the Democratic position:
Later today the Senate will do something that it should have done months ago – confirm Loretta Lynch as the 83rd Attorney General of the United States. Loretta Lynch is as qualified a candidate as I have ever seen during my three decades in Congress. So qualified, in fact, that today will mark the third time she has been confirmed by the United States Senate. Twice before, Loretta Lynch was unanimously confirmed as the U.S. Attorney for the Eastern District of New York.
By all accounts, Loretta Lynch’s confirmation this time around should have sailed through the Senate. And for a while, it seemed like it would. A handful of Republican Senators were vocal in their support for Ms. Lynch: the senior Senator from Utah, the senior Senator from South Carolina, and the junior Senator from Arizona. But it soon became apparent that Republican leadership wasn’t interested in moving the Lynch confirmation along. Her nomination dragged on for months. In fact, Ms. Lynch waited longer to be confirmed than the first 54 Attorneys General combined. Longer than Attorneys General nominated by every President from George Washington to Woodrow Wilson. What should have been a quick confirmation would be anything but that. Instead, Ms. Lynch became the first Attorney General nominee in history to be filibustered. Imagine that, the first of 83 Attorneys General.
The entire confirmation process has been a disgraceful Republican failed leadership debacle. Majority Leader McConnell tried to take the Lynch nomination hostage as the nation was made to wait for a new Attorney General because Republicans insisted on playing games and trying leverage the situation for the benefit of their unrelated agenda.
In the end, history was made, and the top law enforcement position in the country was filled, but not before the American people were reminded of why Republicans are unfit to govern.