WASHINGTON — The newly elected Republican U.S. Senate majority does not take office until January of next year, but Republicans are expressing concerns that President Obama may attempt to take advantage of the upcoming lame duck session of Congress to push through his Attorney General nominee while Democrats are still in control.
Obama recently nominated Loretta Lynch, currently the U.S. Attorney for the Eastern District of New York, to succeed Eric Holder as the nation’s top lawyer. The nomination is subject to confirmation by the U.S. Senate.
Sen. Richard Shelby (R-Ala.) said Monday that considering the drubbing Democrats just took at the polls last week, it would be unwise for them to rush the Senate approval of such a high profile and important position.
“After the American people roundly rejected the agendas of Harry Reid and President Obama last week, we should not allow the president’s nominee for Attorney General to be pushed through during the lame-duck session,” Shelby told Yellowhammer. “Instead, the nominee for Attorney General should be considered by the new Republican Majority through regular order next Congress.”
Shelby is not alone in his assessment. A chorus of Republican lawmakers released statements on Monday urging the nomination to be done through “regular order” when the new Congress is seated in January.
“Ms. Lynch will receive fair consideration by the Senate. And her nomination should be considered in the new Congress through regular order,” said Minority Leader — soon-to-be Majority Leader — Mitch McConnell.
Senators from the Tea Party wing of the GOP echoed that sentiment, as well.
“President Obama’s Attorney General nominee deserves fair and full consideration of the United States Senate, which is precisely why she should not be confirmed in the lame duck session of Congress by senators who just lost their seats and are no longer accountable to the voters,” Sens. Ted Cruz and Mike Lee said in a joint statement. “Loretta Lynch deserves the opportunity to demonstrate those qualities, beginning with a statement whether or not she believes the President’s executive amnesty plans are constitutional and legal.”
President Obama has asked for Lynch to be confirmed “without delay,” but White House aides say he will defer to Senate leaders with regard to whether they should wait until January.
According to Politico, “Senior Democratic aides, meanwhile, said no final decision on timing has been made, but they are strongly leaning towards moving in the lame duck.”
Regardless of when the confirmation hearings take place, it will likely be a hard-fought battle.
According to analysis by FiveThirtyEight, attorney general nominees have historically faced the most contentious confirmations of any cabinet position.
“Attorney general nominees are by far the most likely to face serious resistance,”explained FiveThirtyEight’s Harry Enten. “The average number of ‘no’ votes for all Cabinet position is just 4.5. AG nominees average 13 more than that — 17.4 ‘no’ votes — far ahead of labor secretary nominees at No. 2, who have averaged 10.3 votes.”