Loretta Lynch Vote Could Be Closest In Recent Memory

Loretta Lynch AP
Associated Press

The Senate is slated to consider President Obama’s nominee for attorney general Loretta Lynch this week. The vote could end up being one of the closest attorney general confirmation votes in recent years.

To date, just five Republicans have signaled support for Obama’s nominee. Sens. Susan Collins (ME), Jeff Flake (AZ), Lindsey Graham (SC), Orrin Hatch (UT) and Mark Kirk (IL). A significant majority of the Republican caucus, meanwhile, have said they will not vote for Lynch, largely citing her support for the legal argument behind executive amnesty and concerns that she will not be an independent voice in the administration.

The Hill, which has been keeping a whip count, notes that just four Republicans have not declared how they would vote: Sens. Kelly Ayotte (NH), Thad Cochran (MS), Mike Enzi (WY), Rob Portman (OH).

If the entire Democratic caucus (44 senators) and both Independents (two senators) vote yea — as anticipated — that would leave Lynch with a bare minimum 51 votes to scratch by. If all the undecided Republicans vote for Lynch, she would have more breathing room with 55 votes.

The vote therefore is likely to land somewhere between that 55 and 51 vote range.

In recent weeks Lynch supporters have decried the long amount of time it has taken since since Obama nominated Lynch for her confirmation to receive a vote. They argue she has waited longer than the previous seven attorney generals combined.

If her vote is in that 55 to 51 vote window her confirmation could be among the closest in recent memory, including those seven prior attorney generals — except for, perhaps, Michael Mukasey.

Current Attorney General Eric Holder was confirmed on a vote of 75-21.

In 2007, President George W. Bush’s attorney general nominee to replace Alberto Gonzales — Mukasey — was confirmed on a vote of 53 to 40, in what was at the time the closest vote in a half century.

In the years leading up to the Mukasey vote Gonzales (a Bush nominee) was confirmed 60-32, John Ashcroft (Bush) was confirmed 58-42, Janet Reno (Clinton) 98-0, Richard Thornburgh (Reagan/Bush) 85-0, Edwin Meese (Reagan), 63-31,William French Smith (Reagan) 96-1, Benjamin Civiletti (Carter) 94-1, and Griffin Bell (Carter) 75-21.

The Lynch nomination is expected to come to the floor for a vote after the Senate completes work on a previously stalled human trafficking bill. Republican leadership made the Lynch nomination vote continent on passage of the trafficking bill.

With negotiators reaching a compromise on the trafficking bill Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell filed cloture on the Lynch vote Tuesday setting up a Thursday procedural vote. And while Lynch is expected to pass, she is likely to remain a target for administration critics.

“Lynch has made it clear she has no intention of stopping the president’s unilateral, unconstitutional actions or his bending, breaking, and rewriting of federal laws,” Heritage Foundation senior legal fellow Hans von Spakovsky noted to Breitbart News. “An attorney general is needed who is a professional with the highest ethical standards, not another partisan who believes her main duty is as part of the president’s political team.”