During a joint White House press conference with Italian Prime Minister Matteo Renzi Friday, President Obama addressed the stalled confirmation of U.S. attorney general nominee Loretta Lynch, calling the delay “embarrassing.”
It’s been five months since President Obama nominated Lynch, who would be the first African-American woman to lead the Justice Department. The Senate has not witnessed a delay of this length since Ronald Reagan was in the White House, CNN writes.
Obama blasted Congress, saying “there are times where the dysfunction in the Senate just goes too far.”
“This is an example of it,” Obama said. “Enough. Enough. Call Loretta Lynch for a vote, get her confirmed, let her do her job. This is embarrassing.”
On Thursday, Senate Minority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) said that he would move the nomination forward himself if Republicans don’t schedule a confirmation vote, the Huffington Post reports.
“I know parliamentary procedure around here and we’re going to put up with this for a little while longer, but not much,” Reid said in an interview with MSNBC’s Rachel Maddow. “Absolutely we can force votes. If we don’t get something done soon, I will force a vote.”
Following Obama’s comments, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell’s office said they are working towards moving the nomination. The nomination has been inexplicably tied to an unrelated Senate fight over a human trafficking bill and its anti-abortion provisions. McConnell has been accused of using Lynch as leverage to push Democrats to drop a filibuster on the bill.
Negotiations between the GOP and Democrats are still on the table.
From the Huffington Post:
Before the Senate adjourned Thursday, Reid said there’s been “significant progress” in finding a way forward on the trafficking bill, but that negotiators aren’t there yet. “I’m going to serve notice right now that Ms. Lynch’s nomination will not remain in purgatory forever,” he said on the Senate floor.
This week, women civil rights leaders united to stage a hunger strike in an effort to move along the delayed process. The group, composed of leaders from Reverend Al Sharpton’s National Action Network (NAN) and a number of activists, launched a fasting campaign Wednesday dubbed Confirm Lynch Fast.
The civil rights group is hoping to push the confirmation along by hosting the fast. Participants will refrain from eating for one day at a time until the twice-confirmed United States Attorney for the Eastern District of New York’s position has been solidified.