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Opinion: Lynch’s confirmation isn’t all good news

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It has been nearly six months since Loretta Lynch has been nominated to the office of Attorney General. Finally, the last hurdle to getting her confirmed by the Senate has been dealt with: a human trafficking bill that had an anti-choice provision snuck in by Republicans (an issue that had nothing to do with her confirmation). If all goes according to plan, the longest confirmation of a member of the President’s cabinet in recent history will finally end.

I previously wrote about this problem over a month ago, and privately, I assumed this was just another Republican stunt and it would be over quickly. I never would have imagined this confirmation would be dragging on until almost May. After Republicans snuck the anti-choice provision into the human trafficking bill, Democrats refused to support the bill. As a result, Majority Leader Mitch McConnell would not bring Lynch’s final confirmation vote to the floor until the bill was passed.

A frustrated President Obama said recently that the whole situation was, “embarrassing”, and that we should be ashamed. In the past, whenever different parties have controlled Congress and the White House, there have been very few cases where the president’s nominee for a cabinet position was held up as political leverage in this way. This is our national government we’re talking about, and it’s one of the most important law enforcement positions in the country.

If Republicans keep this up, it’s only going to hurt them in the long run. Like I said before, our government works on precedent. If something was done legally once, it can and it will be done again. Jeb Bush, one of the Republican frontrunners for president, has stated that “presidents have the right to pick their team.” While he claims his reason for wanting her confirmed is to get rid of Eric Holder, the presidential hopeful’s real reasoning is likely that he knows if he or another Republican wins the White House and Republicans suddenly lose their majority in the Senate, Democrats may pull the same stunt on him.

Precedents aside, if Republicans have held up her confirmation this long, what’s stopping them from adding yet another hurdle to the process? What if a group of senators want leverage on their own piece of legislation? Thirty years ago, this would have never been a question. When Democrats gained their majority after the 2006 midterms, they never went as far as Republicans are now to oppose cabinet appointments.

Republicans had already done an effective job at keeping President Obama’s nominations to offices such as federal courts when they were in the minority. Now that they’re in the majority, there’s no telling how hard it’s going to be for the next few years. This case only shows how far they’re willing to go.

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