Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) said Sunday that the Senate would delay the confirmation of Loretta Lynch to succeed Attorney General Eric Holder until it resolved a bill that Democrats object to because it contains anti-abortion language.
Before the Senate considers Lynch's nomination, McConnell wants the Senate to pass the Justice for Victims of Trafficking Act. The bill, which would establish a fund for victims of human trafficking, had bipartisan support until Democrats learned it contained language that restricted federal funds for abortion. Senate Minority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) has said the bill will not pass as long as it contains the language.
"I had hoped to turn to her next week, but if we can't finish the trafficking bill, she will be put off again," McConnell said, referring to Lynch, on CNN's "State of the Union."
McConnell had previously said Lynch's nomination would come to the floor this week.
McConnell claims Democrats supported the trafficking legislation when they voted to pass it out of the Senate Judiciary Committee, but Democrats say they did not know the bill contained anti-abortion language. McConnell is refusing to pull the language.
"A majority of the Senate does not want to take the language out, and all of the Democrats voted for the very same language three months ago," McConnell said. "Now if they want to have time to turn to the attorney general next week, we need to finish up this human trafficking bill. It's extremely important to the country."
Reid spokesman Adam Jentleson said on Twitter that there was no reason the Senate couldn't consider the trafficking bill and Lynch's nomination at the same time.
No reason Sen. McConnell can't confirm Lynch this week, regardless of the status of the trafficking bill. Senate can do 2 things at once.
— Adam Jentleson (@AJentleson) March 15, 2015
Lynch appears to have enough support to earn confirmation in the Senate, and Democrats have been pushing Republicans to bring up her nomination.
In a statement released after McConnell's appearance on CNN, Reid said that in stalling Lynch's nomination, Republicans were showing an inability to govern.
“Senator McConnell should keep his word and bring Attorney General nominee Loretta Lynch up for a vote this week. By continuing to stall Lynch's nomination Republicans are failing yet another basic test of their ability to govern. Lynch is extraordinarily qualified and there is no procedural excuse for further delay. Lynch's nomination can be brought to the floor at any time," Reid's office said in a statement. "There is nothing stopping the Senate from confirming Lynch and continuing to debate the trafficking bill this week, except Senator McConnell's unwillingness to bring her nomination up for a vote."
In a separate statement, Sen. Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) said the United States simply couldn't afford not to have Lynch confirmed.
“For months and months, Republicans have failed to move forward with her nomination using any excuse they can, except for any credible objection to her nomination itself. It's time for Republicans to stop dragging their feet on Loretta Lynch," Schumer said in a statement. "Loretta Lynch, and the American people, don't deserve this. At a time when terrorists from ISIS to Al-Shabaab threaten the United States, the nominee to be attorney general deserves an up or down vote.”
This story has been updated to include comment from Reid and Schumer.
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