Loretta E. Lynch was confirmed Thursday as the 83rd U.S. Attorney General following a months long wait in a bitter debate that had nothing to do with her candidacy, reports say.
The Senate voted 56 to 43, with 10 Republicans for her confirmation, according to The New York Times.
Democrats applauded the confirmation after Lynch waited more than five months for the Senate to vote, prompting President Barack Obama last week to call the delay “embarrassing.” Black congressional leaders and Vice President Joe Biden accused the mostly White male Republican leadership of mistreating Lynch because she is a Black woman.
“It’s about time Senate Republicans finally came to the table and allowed a vote to confirm Loretta Lynch as our next attorney general,” Michael Tyler, a spokesman for the Democratic National Committee, said in statement sent to NewsOne. “Instead of working to ensure that our justice system serves its citizens to the best of its ability by swiftly confirming Lynch, Republicans chose to delay her confirmation for longer than any attorney general nominee in over three decades for purely political purposes. As the president noted, this was embarrassing and it is a clear demonstration of what Republican leadership looks like.”
The 55-year-old veteran New York prosecutor replaces Eric H. Holder Jr., 64, who in September announced plans to step down from the position after six years.
President Obama, who nominated Lynch in November, said in statement that America is lucky to have Lynch as its chief law enforcement officer. “Loretta has spent her life fighting for the fair and equal justice that is the foundation of our democracy,” the president said in the statement.
“Today, the Senate finally confirmed Loretta Lynch to be America’s next Attorney General–and America will be better off for it,” the president said in the statement. “Loretta has spent her life fighting for the fair and equal justice that is the foundation of our democracy.”
As head of the Justice Department, she will oversee a vast portfolio of cases, including counterterrorism and voting rights; public corruption and white-collar crime; judicial recommendations and policy reviews, the statement says.
“She will bring to bear her experience as a tough, independent, and well-respected prosecutor on key, bipartisan priorities like criminal justice reform,” Obama says in the statement. “And she will build on our progress in combatting newer threats like cybercrime. Loretta’s confirmation ensures that we are better positioned to keep our communities safe, keep our nation secure, and ensure that every American experiences justice under the law.”
North Carolina U.S. Rep. G.K. Butterfield, who represents Lynch’s home state, echoed the president’s sentiments.
“Today is a historic day for our country as Loretta Lynch becomes the first African American female to serve in the role of our nation’s top law enforcement official,” Butterfield, who is chairman of the Congressional Black Caucus, said. “Her impeccable qualifications in this important position will help our country move the criminal justice system forward.”
The Rev. Al Sharpton, who was among leaders and activists who participated in the Confirm Lynch Hunger Fast, welcomed Lynch to the post, noting that his National Action Network is working on police brutality cases in North Charleston, South Carolina; New York City; Baltimore, Maryland; and other cities, as well as fighting to protect voting rights.
“The fact that she is the first African American woman in this office is a game changer,” Sharpton said in a statement sent to NewsOne. “For her to continue the positive moves made by her predecessor Eric Holder around police reform and preserving voting rights is crucial.
Reports The New York Times:
Her confirmation took longer than that for all but two other nominees for the office: Edwin Meese III, who was nominated by President Ronald Reagan, and A. Mitchell Palmer, who was picked by President Woodrow Wilson, according to the Congressional Research Service.
Republicans have found themselves in a quandary for months. They longed to replace Attorney General Eric H. Holder Jr., and they agreed that Ms. Lynch was qualified for the job. But they opposed her because Ms. Lynch defended President Obama’s executive actions on immigration.
What’s more, Senator Mitch McConnell, Republican of Kentucky and majority leader, had held up the nomination until the Senate voted on a human trafficking bill, a process that dragged on for weeks. The measure passed on Wednesday by a vote of 99 to 0.
Congratulations, Loretta Lynch!
SOURCE: The New York Times | PHOTO CREDIT: Getty