African American and other civil rights leaders infuriated over the stalled confirmation vote on Loretta Lynch, the first black woman to be nominated for attorney general, are casting the delay as an issue with racial overtones, reports the Washington Post. They are urging the Senate to act immediately and end a process that has lasted more than five months. Activists are into a hunger strike over the Senate's failure to vote on Lynch. African American groups have also protested outside the offices of senators who oppose her leading the Justice Department. One Democratic senator has compared the holdup to the treatment of civil rights activist Rosa Parks in the segregated South, saying that Lynch has been “asked to sit in the back of the bus when it comes to the Senate calendar.”
“The question we all want answered is: Why is it impossible to have a simple constitutional vote on the floor of the Senate?” said the Rev. Al Sharpton of the National Action Network, which is organizing the hunger strike. “Why is it that the first black female nominee is being treated in such a disrespectful and inexcusable manner?” President Obama said Friday, “There are times when the dysfunction in the Senate just goes too far . . . Enough. Enough. Call Loretta Lynch for a vote. Get her confirmed. Put her in place. Let her do her job. This is embarrassing.” The full Senate was expected to vote on Lynch's nomination a week or two after the Senate Judiciary Committee did so. Instead, it became tangled in a controversy over the abortion provisions in a human-trafficking bill. Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) said the Senate would not take any action on Lynch until the dispute over the trafficking bill was resolved.