Thursday was the final day of hearings on the nomination of U.S. Attorney Loretta Lynch to be the next attorney general and even the witnesses called by the Republicans, who spent their time bashing outgoing AG Eric Holder and President Obama, agreed that she should be confirmed.
Today’s session was devoted to witnesses invited by Republican and Democratic senators to help the committee members make the very serious decision as to whether to Lynch is qualified.
Most of the Democrats’ witnesses praised Lynch based on their personal and professional experiences with her over the years. But the Republican witnesses had no such personal or professional experience with the nominee, nor did they take issue with her qualifications. In fact, they didn’t have much to say about Lynch at all. Instead, they spent their time criticizing President Obama and Attorney General Eric Holder.
But what did they think of Lynch? The committee’s ranking Democrat decided to find out: Senator Patrick Leahy asked all of the witnesses, Republican and Democratic alike, to raise their hand if they actually opposed Lynch.
Not one did.
Despite the fact that the Republicans couldn’t find a single person to testify who opposes her nomination, you can be sure that a few dozen of them will still vote against her. Traditionally, the Senate has shown a great deal of deference to the president when it comes to nominees for their own cabinet. Almost never is a cabinet nominee turned down (it happened with John Tower at the end of the Reagan administration; it hadn’t happened before that since 1959) and most of them have traditionally passed by a voice vote or an overwhelming recorded vote.
Bush had 33 total cabinet nominations, 27 of which passed on a voice vote or recorded vote. A 5th nominee was confirmed 98-2. Obama has had 26 nominations so far (not counting Lynch, who hasn’t had a vote yet), only 11 of which passed unanimously or by a voice vote. Nine of them had at least 24 votes in opposition. And that doesn’t count several who were forced to withdraw their nominations because the Republicans refused to allow a vote. I think that speaks volumes about how obstructionist the Republicans have become with Obama in office.