Lynch must be confirmed as attorney general
EDDIE BERNICE JOHNSON | 3/30/2015, 8:39 a.m.
Loretta Lynch, the president’s nominee to replace Eric Holder as the U.S. Attorney General, is poised to become the first African American woman to lead the Justice Department. She is a Harvard-educated lawyer with a reputation as a tough prosecutor.
Her impeccable record includes the successful prosecutions of high-profile public corruption and civil rights cases, as well as cases in which public officials were physically assaulted. Since the events of 9/11, her office has been responsible for the conviction of individuals involved in plotting terrorist attacks against this country. Time and time again, Lynch has demonstrated a commitment to keeping Americans safe. She has performed her job effectively, and without grandstanding. It is time for the Senate to do the same.
The U.S. Constitution grants the Senate the power to provide “advice and consent” regarding presidential appointments. This role of the Senate in confirming presidential appointees is an important one. Historically, senators will question a nominee on their record, and press them on important matters to determine if the nominee is qualified to advise the president.
The Senate has already determined, on two separate occasions, that Lynch is a prosecutor with impeccable character and expertise. She has been confirmed by the Senate twice as U.S. attorney for the Eastern District of New York under President Clinton in 2000, and again under President Obama in 2010. During her most recent Senate confirmation hearing Lynch performed admirably. She endured hours of grueling questions concerning her legal record, her views on immigration, limits to the president’s executive authority, and a host of other legal issues she may encounter as the nation’s top law enforcement official.
Lynch has the necessary qualifications to be our nation’s next attorney general. From her stellar record as a federal prosecutor, to her prestigious academic pedigree, her experiences have prepared her to enforce and uphold both the letter and the spirit of the United States Constitution at the highest level. Shamefully, Senate Republicans are holding her confirmation hostage as they continue the battle over the president’s immigration policies.
Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell indicated that there would not be a confirmation vote for Lynch until the Senate finishes its debate over an anti-trafficking bill, which has been slowed by a fight over an abortion provision. Yet again, Senate Republicans are using Lynch’s confirmation as political leverage for an unrelated matter. This is no way to govern.
America has waited far too long for a new attorney general to be confirmed while justice hangs in the balance. The time has come for the Senate to act. There has been no substantive criticism of Lynch’s qualifications. She has worked to earn the support of a majority of the Senate. In fact, the Senate Judiciary Committee has already voted to approve the nomination. Yet the Republican leadership has refused to bring her nomination to the floor. It is time for the Senate to provide the “advice and consent” that they are constitutionally empowered to give.
U.S. Rep. Eddie Bernice Johnson is the ranking member of the House Committee on Science, Space, and Technology and the highest-ranking Texan on the House Committee on Transportation and Infrastructure.