After a five-month battle, the Senate finally confirmed Loretta Lynch US Attorney General today, making her the first Black woman in US history to take on the role. The Senate’s confirmation saw a vote of 56-43.
Lynch was nominated by President Obama for the post in November, but Senate Republicans refused to bring her nomination up for a vote. Instead, they tied her confirmation vote to a battle over abortion language in an anti-human trafficking bill. The Senate reached a compromise earlier this week, which paved the way for the Senate vote today.
The trafficking bill in question was the Justice for Victims of Trafficking Act, sponsored by Republican Senator John Cornyn (R-TX). The bipartisan bill was expected to pass smoothly through Congress, but a small provision added to the bill that would effectively strengthen the Hyde Amendment, which bans spending federal dollars on abortion,gave Democratic members pause. Ultimately, the body decided to divide funds into two parts – taxpayer money and criminal fines. Taxpayer money, which would only be for healthcare services, is already subject to the Hyde Amendment. Criminal fines, according to the bill, will go to victim services.
Lynch will be replacing Eric Holder, who announced his resignation in September of last year. The amount of time she has been waiting to be confirmed totals the wait time of the last seven attorney general nominees combined.
Media Resources: CNN 4/23/2015; NPR 4/23/2015, 4/21/2015