Top Democrat Worried Senate Will Reject Attorney General Nominee Loretta Lynch

WASHINGTON -- Senate Minority Whip Dick Durbin (D-Ill.) said Tuesday that he has real concerns about Republicans voting down President Barack Obama's nominee for attorney general, Loretta Lynch.

"I am worried about it," Durbin told reporters. "I've been waiting for Republican senators to join the three in the Senate Judiciary Committee and announce their support. I may have missed some, but I haven't heard very many."

Lynch's nomination has been languishing for months. The longer she waits, the more GOP detractors she's picked up.

Sen. Shelley Moore Capito (R-W.Va.) added her name to that list on Tuesday, saying in a statement that she has "great personal and professional respect" for Lynch but will oppose her because Lynch supports the legality of Obama's executive action on immigration. That's the same reason given by other Republicans vowing to vote against Lynch, even as they raise no concerns about her qualifications for the post.

So far, only four Republican senators have said they support her: Orrin Hatch (Utah), Lindsey Graham (S.C.), Jeff Flake (Ariz.) and Susan Collins (Maine). If all 44 Democrats and the two independents vote for Lynch, as expected, along with those four Republicans, the count will be 50-50. That means Lynch still needs one more Republican to say yes, or Vice President Joe Biden to cast a tie-breaking vote as president of the Senate.

If confirmed, Lynch would make history as the first African-American female U.S. attorney general.

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) reiterated Tuesday that he won't let Lynch's nomination come to a vote until the Senate passes an unrelated human trafficking bill. That measure has stalled over an anti-abortion provision, fueling partisan tensions.

"I continue to hope that we can get past the dilemma that you've all witnessed on the trafficking bill, and go forward with that and turn to the Lynch nomination," McConnell told reporters. "I know there are people on both sides of the aisle trying to figure out how to get past the impasse. I hope they can do that and I wish them well."

But with Congress set to take a two-week recess starting next week, that means Lynch won't get a vote until at least mid-April. She was nominated in November and has already waited more than three times as long as it took the Senate to confirm Attorney General John Ashcroft under President George W. Bush.

Durbin suggested there may be a silver lining to McConnell punting Lynch's nomination into next month.

"Who knows," said Durbin. "Maybe after the break and tempers have cooled a little, things will change."

For his part, Flake said he isn't feeling much pressure from colleagues to pull his support from Lynch. He's also hopeful about her fate.

Asked if he thinks Lynch will ultimately get confirmed, Flake said, "I do."

In a Huffington Post interview last week, Obama chided Republicans for the delay. "You don't hold attorney general nominees hostage for other issues," the president said. "This is our top law enforcement office. Nobody denies that she's well-qualified. We need to go ahead and get her done."



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