Updated 5:58 p.m. | A top Senate Democrat has accused the GOP forcing Loretta Lynch to “sit in the back of the bus” by delaying the vote on her confirmation.
“The fact is, there is no substantive reason to stop this nomination,” Senate Minority Whip Richard J. Durbin, D-Ill., said in a Wednesday morning floor speech blasting Majority Leader Mitch McConnell for prioritizing pending anti-human trafficking legislation.
“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 continued. “That is unfair. It’s unjust. It is beneath the decorum and dignity of the United States Senate.”
The lag time on Lynch, who has waited longer for a vote than any attorney general nomination in the past 30 years, has also drawn the ire of the White House. Democrats say no one has found any legitimate problem with her record in New York, and have started suggesting bigotry is to blame. There are fears further delay could cost Lynch more Republican votes.
Durbin’s bus remarks refer to the civil rights hero whose likeness is prominently displayed in Statuary Hall. A statue of Rosa Parks was installed on Feb. 27, 2013 , becoming the first representation of an African-American woman in the Capitol.
The floor speech led to criticism from the Republican side, which drew comparisons to Democratic objections to President George W. Bush’s nomination of Janice Rogers Brown to a seat on the Circuit Court of Appeals based in the District of Columbia.
Remember that time Sen. Durbin led filbusters in an attempt to defeat this judge? pic.twitter.com/a1nGMrgYBm — STEW (@StewSays) March 18, 2015Rogers Brown had been filibustered but was ultimately confirmed by the Senate as part of the 2005 “Gang of 14” agreement that also prevented, for some time, the use of the “nuclear option” to change the Senate’s nomination rules.
The delay in confirming Lynch has the effect of keeping in place Attorney General Eric H. Holder, Jr.
Niels Lesniewski contributed to this report. Related: White House Slams McConnell on Lynch, Trafficking Bill (Video) A New Delay for Loretta Lynch? (Video) Little Hope for Bipartisanship With Lynch, Budget Ahead Senate Democrats Press McConnell to Schedule Lynch Confirmation Vote (Updated) Reid: No Amendments Until GOP Strips Abortion Language (Video) (Updated) The 114th: CQ Roll Call’s Guide to the New Congress Get breaking news alerts and more from Roll Call in your inbox or on your iPhone.