The Senate Judiciary Committee voted Thursday to approve the nomination of Loretta Lynch for U.S. attorney general after months of Republican obstruction.
The 12-8 vote largely broke along party lines, with Republican Sens. Orrin Hatch (UT), Jeff Flake (AZ), and Lindsey Graham (SC) joining Democrats in voting to support the first Black woman nominated as attorney general.
Thursday’s vote came 110 days after President Obama first nominated Lynch to succeed Attorney General Eric Holder, which Democratic senators noted is the longest any attorney general nominee has had to wait for a confirmation vote.
Lynch, a twice-confirmed U.S. attorney for the Eastern District of New York, faced the most opposition concerning her support of Obama’s executive action on immigration. “We shouldn’t confirm anyone who supports the legality of the president’s executive amnesty,” said Sen. Jeff Sessions (R-AL), who voted against Lynch’s nomination.
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For those Republicans who supported Lynch’s nomination, it was clear that support was based at least in part on a desire to see the Department of Justice change hands.
“Eric Holder is ready to go, and I wish him well,” Graham said in explaining his vote to support Lynch’s nomination. “He is about to make a lot of money. Republicans are into that.”
Hatch meanwhile explained his support for Lynch by noting, “[t]here is good reason to believe that Ms. Lynch will be more independent than the current attorney general and make strides toward recommitting the department to the rule of law.”
Republican senators like Ted Cruz (TX) opposed Lynch for her “radical” views on executive authority. Sessions called on his colleagues’ “sense of self-preservation” in voting against Lynch.
Lynch’s nomination now heads to the full Senate for consideration.