Republicans have been running the Senate for just over two months, but already we're seeing a clear pattern of hostage taking and playing politics at the expense of the American people.
Time and again, this Republican majority has tried to inject unrelated, extreme, politically charged matters into key pieces of legislation that would otherwise pass with bipartisan support.
Instead of funding the Department of Homeland Security, the Republicans held our national security hostage and threatened to furlough thousands of DHS workers so they could try to insert a mean-spirited provision aimed at splitting up millions of loving families.
Instead of passing a transportation bill with bipartisan support, some Republicans want to hold the highway bill hostage to big polluting Canadian special interests and build the Keystone pipeline that will create only 35 permanent jobs.
Instead of working with Democrats to pass a bipartisan human trafficking bill that everyone could support, the Republicans snuck in language that would, for the first time, place abortion restrictions on private funds used by women who have survived slavery.
And now the Senate Republicans have aimed their political hostage taking at the historic nomination of Loretta Lynch to be our next attorney general.
We all know that Republicans have been stalling this nomination at every turn. It has now been 129 days since President Obama announced his intent to nominate Ms. Lynch. In the last 30 years, no attorney general nominee has waited longer than Loretta Lynch to receive a floor vote after being reported from committee. In fact, her nomination has been pending on the Senate floor as long as the past five attorneys general combined.
And let's be clear: There isn't any question about her qualifications.
The Senate has already confirmed Loretta Lynch twice before to serve as the U.S. attorney for the Eastern District of New York -- both times unanimously. In this post, she has had an impeccable record for prosecuting terrorists and criminals.
During her Judiciary Committee testimony earlier this year, she testified for nearly eight hours and responded to nearly 900 questions for the record. Not a single witness invited by Republicans actually opposed her nomination.
In fact, many Republican leaders have publicly voiced their support for Loretta Lynch and praised her qualifications.
During the Senate Judiciary committee hearing in January, Senator Hatch said, "I believe she's not only qualified but exceptionally well-qualified." A few weeks later, during the Senate Judiciary Committee Executive Business meeting, Senator Flake said, "I think that she is imminently qualified." Senator Graham added that he "believe[s] her experiences in life and as a U.S. attorney make her well qualified."
Her widespread, bipartisan support includes endorsements from the leaders of our law enforcement community. Former FBI director Louis Freeh said it best: "In my 25 years of public service -- 23 in the Department of Justice -- I cannot think of a more qualified nominee to be America's chief law enforcement officer."
So lawmakers of both parties support her nomination, law enforcement supports her nomination and the civil rights community supports her nomination.
But instead of moving forward and ending this absurd delay, we have yet another hollow excuse from Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, who wants to hold her nomination hostage until Democrats "cooperate on a human trafficking bill."
Democrats want to move forward on the human trafficking bill. We are ready to debate the clean bill with the same language that was supported by both Democrats and Republicans last year. We could pass a bill in 15 minutes if the GOP would take out this egregious provision that would hurt the very women we are trying to help: victims of sex trafficking. All Republicans need to do is end their sneak attack on women's health.
And instead of using Loretta Lynch's nomination as a bargaining chip, Republicans should stop playing politics and confirm her as the first African-American woman to serve as Attorney General of the United States.
There is no valid reason whatsoever to wait another day to bring up her nomination. There is no procedural excuse; we all know that this nomination could be brought to the floor at any time.
It is time to stop the foot dragging. It is time to stop injecting extreme measures into bipartisan legislation. It is time to stop endangering the health and lives of women.
And it is long past time for Republicans to end the political hostage taking and confirm Loretta Lynch so she can start serving the American people.
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