Democratic Whip Dick Durbin (D-IL) should apologize for charging that Republicans are asking President Obama’s attorney general nominee Loretta Lynch “to sit in the back of the bus,” Sen. John McCain (R-AZ) says.
“I deeply regret that the senator from Illinois chose to come here yesterday and question the integrity and motivation, mine and my Republican colleagues,” McCain said on the Senate floor Thursday. “It was offensive and unnecessary, and I think he owes this body, Ms. Lynch and all Americans an apology.”
Durbin had lambasted Republicans for delaying Lynch’s confirmation saying they have “no good reason” for doing so.
“And so Loretta Lynch, the first African-American woman nominated to be attorney general, is asked to sit in the back of the bus when it comes to the Senate calendar,” Durbin said, referencing the Montgomery, Alabama Jim Crow Law that made Rosa Parks a hero of the civil rights movement.
McCain says the comments were inappropriate.
“What is beneath the decorum and dignity of the United States Senate, I would say to the Senator from Illinois, is for him to come to this floor and use that imagery, and suggest that racist tactics are being employed to delay Ms. Lynch’s confirmation vote,” McCain said.
“Such inflammatory rhetoric has no place in this body and serves no purpose other than to further divide us,” he continued, going on to note the Durbin has blocked and voted against an African American woman nominee too, specifically Janice Rogers Brown.
“I would never suggest, even with veiled rhetoric, that Judge Rogers Brown’s race was the reason for the senator from Illinois’ opposition to her nomination,” McCain said. “And he should extend, I say to my colleague from Illinois, he should extend that same courtesy to me and my colleagues.”
Speaking directly after McCain on the Senate floor, Durbin did not apologize for his comments, but instead expressed frustration that Lynch has waited 131 days — to date — since she was nominated to be confirmed.
He acknowledged that he has voted against other African-American women nominees in the past but argued “all I am saying, she deserves the same, fair treatment we have given to other nominees for this job. She has now been pending before the Senate longer than any nominee for attorney general in the last 30 years.”
Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) has said that he will not bring the Lynch nomination to the floor until the Senate passes a human trafficking bill on which the body is currently stuck.
Thursday afternoon Senate Democrat filibustered the human trafficking bill yet again due to their opposition to a provision restricting funding for abortions.
According to The Hill, however, the bill’s sponsor Sen. John Cornyn (R-TX), said before the vote that he is working on a possible compromise.