Why The Senate Has Taken Over Four Months to Confirm Next Attorney General

President Obama nominated Loretta Lynch in November, but Senate has yet to vote.

ByABC News
March 16, 2015, 12:48 PM

— -- It’s been four months and eight days since President Obama nominated Loretta Lynch to replace current Attorney General Eric Holder, but the Senate has yet to confirm her to the post as hurdle after hurdle has emerged in her confirmation battle.

It’s a combination of unexpected factors -– from immigration to human trafficking -– that have put a wrinkle in Lynch’s nomination process.

In November, Senate Democrats agreed not to process Lynch’s nomination, which was announced within a week of the midterm elections, until Senate Republicans took control in January. Once the New Year came and Republicans were in the majority, the Senate Judiciary Committee held Lynch’s confirmation hearing, but Republicans quickly used Lynch’s confirmation as a tool to try to fight President Obama’s executive actions on immigration.

The tactic only amounted to delay, and Lynch was voted out of the Senate Judiciary Committee at the end of February with the support of three Republicans. But Lynch’s nomination has been put on the back burner as other issues have dominated the Senate’s agenda – from approving funding for the Department of Homeland Security to an anti-human trafficking bill.

Democrats are objecting to the anti-human trafficking legislation due to abortion restrictions included in the measure. On CNN’s State of the Union Sunday, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell said a vote on Lynch would not occur until the Senate moves forward on the trafficking bill.

“I had hoped to turn to her next week, but if we can't finish the trafficking bill, she will be put off again,” McConnell said. “They need to come to grips with this.”

The threat of another delay angered Democrats who believe Lynch, who would be the first African American woman to serve as attorney general, has waited long enough to be confirmed.

"For months and months, Republicans have failed to move forward with her nomination using any excuse they can, except for any credible objection to her nomination itself. It's time for Republicans to stop dragging their feet on Loretta Lynch," Sen. Chuck Schumer, D-NY, said.

"Loretta Lynch, and the American people, don't deserve this," he added. "At a time when terrorists from ISIS to Al-Shabab threaten the United States, the nominee to be attorney general deserves an up or down vote."

Democrats have pointed out Lynch’s confirmation process is the longest of any attorney general nominee in recent history. The longest confirmation process was for Attorney General Edwin Meese III who was confirmed in 1985 after 13 months due to questions relating to his ethical conduct.

"Senator McConnell is choosing to delay Lynch's confirmation despite having already kept her waiting longer than any Attorney General nominee in three decades,” Adam Jentleson, spokesman for Senate Minority Leader Harry Reid, said. “No more excuses, no more delays. Confirm Loretta Lynch now.”