After Historic Delay, Senate Finally Confirms Loretta Lynch

The U.S. Senate on Thursday confirmed (56-43) Loretta Lynch as U.S. Attorney General, making her the first African-American woman to serve in the position. Ten Republicans joined every Democrat in voting for her confirmation.

Lynch’s confirmation is also historic because of unprecedented obstruction by Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R. Ky., who refused to bring the nomination up for a vote until the Senate passed an unrelated human trafficking bill – but who also ultimately voted for her confirmation.

“Lynch faced this unprecedented obstruction not because of her fitness for office, but because her nomination was inappropriately used in a proxy war against the President and his policies,” said Wade Henderson, president and CEO of The Leadership Conference, in a statement following her confirmation. “While we applaud those senators who chose to judge Lynch on her merits to be Attorney General, congressional Republicans have a long way to go in proving that they can provide the necessary leadership to govern.”

President Obama nominated Lynch on November 8, and the Senate Judiciary Committee advanced her nomination on February 26 with support from every Democrat and three Republicans – Sens. Orrin Hatch, R. Utah, Jeff Flake, R. Ariz., and Lindsey Graham, R. S.C. Prior to Thursday’s vote, Sens. Susan Collins, R. Maine, and Mark Kirk, R. Ill., also announced their support. And on Thursday, Sens. Kelly Ayotte, R. N.H., and Rob Portman, R. Ohio, also released statements saying they would vote for her confirmation.

But support from Republicans in the Senate was hardly isolated. Lynch also had the support of former FBI Director Louis Freeh, former New York City Mayor Rudy Giuliani, and New York Police Commissioner William Bratton, who called Lynch “a remarkable prosecutor with a clear sense of justice without fear or favor.”

In the past week, both former Florida Governor Jeb Bush and former U.S. Attorney General Alberto Gonzales have called on the Senate to hold a vote, saying that presidents should be entitled to pick their teams.

In his statement, Henderson also praised the leadership of Eric Holder, who announced his resignation from the post nearly six months ago, but who has continued to lead the Department of Justice.

“Eric Holder has presided over one of the most forward-thinking and visionary Justice Departments in memory. His tenure will be remembered as one of the most successful in modern American history and is even more remarkable considering that his leadership was subjected to unprecedented politicization by House Republicans,” Henderson said. “Attorney General Lynch has what it takes to serve our nation with distinction. We applaud her long overdue confirmation and urge congressional Republicans to stop politicizing the important work of the Department of Justice.”