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3 Republicans Defy Ted Cruz, Back Loretta Lynch (Updated)

Cruz spoke on the Senate floor for 21 hours in an attempt to get Republicans to block a stopgap spending measure without language to defund Obamacare. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call)
Cruz spoke on the Senate floor for 21 hours in an attempt to get Republicans to block a stopgap spending measure without language to defund Obamacare. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call)

Updated 1:36 p.m. | It’s starting to look like yet another loss under the Dome for Ted Cruz.  

The Texas firebrand’s fellow Republicans aren’t on board with his plan to block Loretta Lynch’s nomination to be attorney general.  

The Senate Judiciary Committee backed the Lynch nomination, 12-8, Thursday with the help of three Republicans — Orrin G. Hatch of Utah, Lindsey Graham of South Carolina and Jeff Flake of Arizona.

Her nomination now goes to the Senate floor, where it could receive a vote as soon as next week.

Cruz has been trying to rally his fellow Republican senators to block Lynch, as well as all non-security nominations, in retaliation for Barack Obama’s executive actions on immigration.

“We should not be surprised if President Obama tries to come back to grant amnesty to 12 million … and Ms. Lynch rubber-stamps that as acceptable,” Cruz said. “We should not be surprised if over the next two years we continue to see abuse of power, abuse of executive authority, regulatory abuse and the Department of Justice rubber-stamping it over and over … again.”

Graham, who like Cruz is considering a run for president, said Republicans who feel aggrieved over the executive actions could seek to impeach, but that is not a likely course of action.

“We’re not going to go down that road because most American would not like that as the outcome,” he said.

Graham said the issues should be hashed out in the courts, rather than seeking a legislative fix that would never get through the Senate.

“We can yell and scream all we’d like, but the courts are the right place for this to be resolved,” he said.

Graham was quick to note that he too opposes the president’s executive actions, in part because they have made it more difficult to overhaul the immigration laws. Graham is one of the Senate’s “gang of eight” who crafted the Senate’s bill two years ago.

But he also argued that Lynch is more than qualified to be attorney general and to oppose Lynch would amount to adding to the dysfunction of the chamber.

“I am disappointed that the president has done this because he has thrown a wet blanket over what might be our last best chance to get immigration reform; [he’s] more worried about the next election than the country as a whole, so I have nothing, quite frankly, but disdain for what he’s done,” Graham said. “But…she’s qualified by any reasonable standard. I am sorry the Senate has become so dysfunctional, I am sorry the president has created this mess, but I am not going to add to it. I am going to vote for this lady because I think she’s qualified.

Just prior to the committee vote, Flake said he doesn’t agree with all of her positions, but believes Lynch to be “eminently qualified and anybody who has met with her and attended the hearings where she came forward had to be impressed with her background and experience.”

Flake also noted that the sooner Lynch is approved, the sooner Republicans would be rid of Attorney General Eric H. Holder Jr.

Judiciary Chairman Charles E. Grassley of Iowa, who voted against Lynch, said the odds are that she will be confirmed.

“I suspect Ms. Lynch will be confirmed,” Grassley said, but he noted that she wouldn’t get 93 votes like recently confirmed Defense Secretary Ashton B. Carter, who signaled a change of direction in the leadership at Pentagon.

Cruz Wednesday gave up on trying to delay a clean DHS funding bill.

The 114th: CQ Roll Call’s Guide to the New Congress

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