02.10.15

Leahy: SJC Should Approve AG Lynch’s Nomination This Week

WASHINGTON (Tuesday, February 10, 2015) – In a floor statement Tuesday, Senator Patrick Leahy (D-Vt.) said the Judiciary Committee should approve the nomination of Loretta Lynch to be the next Attorney General this week, so that the Senate can confirm her without further delay.

Lynch, poised to become the nation’s chief law enforcement officer, testified before the Senate Judiciary Committee nearly two weeks ago. Her nomination has broad bipartisan support, and the Senate has twice unanimously confirmed her to serve as the United States Attorney for the Eastern District of New York. Despite Lynch’s likely path to confirmation, Republicans on the Judiciary Committee may delay a vote on her nomination at this week’s executive business meeting. Leahy, the Committee’s ranking member, urged Senators not to put off a vote until after the recess.

“As of today, it has been 94 days since the President announced the nomination of Ms. Lynch,” Leahy said. “Her nomination has been pending longer than any modern Attorney General nominee. We should all be able to agree that confirming the top law enforcement position should be an urgent priority of the Senate.  This Thursday, the Senate Judiciary Committee has the opportunity to vote on her nomination.  I have heard that some Republicans are considering delaying that important vote for two weeks and I urge them not to do so.”  

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Statement of Senator Patrick Leahy (D-Vt.),
Ranking Member, Senate Judiciary Committee,
On the Nomination of Loretta Lynch to Serve
as Attorney General of the United States
February 10, 2015

Almost two weeks ago, the Attorney General nominee, Loretta Lynch, came before the Senate Judiciary Committee and testified for nearly eight hours.  She has also responded to more than 600 written questions.  When confirmed, she will be the first African American woman to serve as the Attorney General of the United States in our Nation’s history.  A majority of members of the Committee, both Republican and Democratic, have said that they intend to support her confirmation.  I am confident she has the votes to be confirmed by the full Senate. 

As of today, it has been 94 days since the President announced the nomination of Ms. Lynch.  Her nomination has been pending longer than any modern Attorney General nominee. We should all be able to agree that confirming the top law enforcement position should be an urgent priority of the Senate.  This Thursday, the Senate Judiciary Committee has the opportunity to vote on her nomination.  I have heard that some Republicans are considering delaying that important vote for two weeks and I urge them not to do so.  

Loretta Lynch’s qualifications are beyond reproach.  She has been confirmed by the Senate twice before to serve as the top Federal prosecutor based in Brooklyn, New York.  Under her leadership, the United States Attorney’s Office for the Eastern District of New York has brought terrorists to justice, obtained convictions against both Republicans and Democrats in public corruption cases, and fought tirelessly against violent crime and financial fraud.  Her record shows that as Attorney General, Ms. Lynch will effectively, fairly, and independently enforce the law.

In 2007, Michael Mukasey was nominated by President Bush to serve as Attorney General, while I served as Chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee.  Like Ms. Lynch, Judge Mukasey had been confirmed before by the Senate and was the Attorney General nominee coming at the end of the second term of a presidency.  Although I was ultimately unable to support Judge Mukasey because of his responses to questions relating to torture, I nevertheless proceeded with his nomination in a prompt manner.  It took just 53 days from the announcement of Judge Mukasey’s nomination to his confirmation. Ms. Lynch’s nomination is needlessly on track to take more than twice the amount of time it took a Democratically-led Senate to confirm President Bush’s nominee.  After his hearing, Senate Democrats did not hold Judge Mukasey’s nomination over in Committee.  In fact, I had to hold a special mark-up to report his nomination out of Committee as soon as possible.  He was confirmed two days later.  Republicans should extend the same courtesy to expediting Ms. Lynch’s nomination.

Last week the Secretary of Defense nominee testified before the Senate Armed Services Committee and will be reported to the floor today.  He is expected to be confirmed by the end of the week.  The Defense Secretary is a critically important position to fill – as is that of the Nation’s top law enforcement officer.

I urge Senate Republicans to allow a vote on Ms. Lynch’s nomination before we adjourn for the week-long recess.

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