The U.S. Senate voted 56 to 43 Thursday afternoon to confirm Loretta Lynch as the first African American woman to be named Attorney General of the United States. The Senate’s 44 Democrats and two independents were joined by 10 Republicans in supporting Lynch’s confirmation.
The vote came five months after President Barack Obama nominated Lynch, 55, to replace Eric Holder.
The delayed nomination highlighted the Senate’s deep partisan rifts. It was first held up in the last months of 2014 by outgoing Democratic leadership who prioritized other judicial nominations they believed would be stalled in a Republican-controlled Senate.
Her nomination then stalled for nearly a month in the Senate Judiciary Committee after Lynch angered Republicans by saying during questioning that she believed a series of controversial executive actions Obama took on immigration in 2014 were constitutional.
More recently, Lynch’s nomination was caught up in the fight over an otherwise unrelated bill to combat sex trafficking, after Democrats objected to provisions extending federal restrictions on abortion funding. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) refused to bring Lynch’s nomination to the floor until the sex trafficking bill was passed. The Senate voted in favor of the bill yesterday.
Outgoing Attorney General Eric Holder voiced support for Lynch in a statement released after today’s vote.
“I have known and worked closely with Loretta for many years, and I know that she will continue the vital work that this Administration has set in motion and leave her own innovative mark on the Department in which we have both been privileged to serve,” Holder said.
Editor’s Note: In a column published today on The Crime Report, legal correspondent Gloria Browne-Marshall wrote that as Attorney General, Lynch “will have to navigate allegations of race-based police killings, as well as address a sensitive agenda that includes the threat of cybercrimes and terrorism, and national policies on immigration, voting rights, Wall Street chicanery, and the future of Guantanamo Bay. To read Browne-Marshall’s column, click HERE.