Sens. Ted Cruz (R-TX) and Mike Lee (R-UT) said Saturday that President Barack Obama’s nomination to replace Attorney General Eric Holder, Brooklyn U.S. Attorney Loretta Lynch, must denounce Obama’s planned executive amnesty.
“President Obama’s Attorney General nominee deserves fair and full consideration of the United States Senate, which is precisely why she should not be confirmed in the lame duck session of Congress by senators who just lost their seats and are no longer accountable to the voters,” Cruz and Lee said in a joint statement. “The Attorney General is the President’s chief law enforcement officer. As such, the nominee must demonstrate full and complete commitment to the law. Loretta Lynch deserves the opportunity to demonstrate those qualities, beginning with a statement whether or not she believes the President’s executive amnesty plans are constitutional and legal.”
When Obama formally nominated Lynch on Saturday, he called her “tough” and “fair,” adding that her career has followed “fairness, equality and justice.” It remains to be seen where Lynch will come down on Obama’s planned executive amnesty, but it would be difficult for her to oppose the president who just nominated her to lead the U.S. Department of Justice.
It also remains to be seen whether the outgoing Senate Democrat majority will attempt to confirm Lynch during the lame duck session in December or if the Senate will wait until the GOP majority is seated next Congress in early January. Holder plans to stay on until his successor is confirmed.
If the incoming Republican-controlled Senate handles the confirmation process, it is highly likely that a precondition for Lynch’s confirmation will be express opposition to Obama’s planned executive immigration action—especially because several senior Republicans have already drawn the battle lines around this fight with that condition.
Cruz, Lee, incoming Senate Budget Committee Chairman Sen. Jeff Sessions (R-AL), and incoming Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, each said before the election that Obama’s choice to replace Holder must denounce Obama’s planned executive amnesty.
McConnell said that it should be a “condition” of the nominee’s confirmation that they oppose executive amnesty.
“As attorney general, Eric Holder too often put political and ideological commitments ahead of the rule of law,” McConnell said. “That’s not something the American people expect in the nation’s highest law-enforcement official, and it’s something Mr. Holder’s replacement should commit to avoiding at all costs as a condition of his or her confirmation — whether it relates to the President’s acting unilaterally on immigration or anything else.”
Sessions said that no Senator should vote for any attorney general nominee who stands with Obama’s planned executive amnesty.
“We need someone at the Department of Justice who will restore fidelity to our national laws and boundaries,” Sessions said. “No senator should vote to confirm anyone to this position who does not firmly reject the President’s planned executive amnesty — or any other scheme to circumvent our nation’s immigration laws — and who does not pledge to serve the laws and people of the United States.”
Sen. Rand Paul (R-KY), who like Cruz is likely to run for president in 2016 and has received the backing of McConnell if he so chooses, also backs Cruz, Lee, Sessions, and McConnell on this demand that the next attorney general oppose Obama’s planned executive amnesty. Paul added that it’s “even bigger and broader than that.”
“I think the attorney general should, whoever the nominee is, acknowledge that they will operate independent of politics, independent of the president and under the direction of the Constitution,” Paul said. “The Constitution really doesn’t allow the president to legislate. It’s a host of issues; I wouldn’t limit it to just immigration.”
“Whether it’s immigration, health care, or war, those are congressional powers,” he explained. “But really with the whole separation of powers, he’s had a whole host of executive orders that appear to be legislating and appear to be illegal. So yeah, I think those are important questions to ask the next attorney general. The question I think is whether it comes up in lame duck session where they have the majority, or whether it comes up in January when, hopefully, the Republicans have the majority.”