After 161 days of waiting, the Senate confirmed Loretta Lynch on Thursday, April 23, as the first female African American Attorney General, in a 56 to 43 vote. Every Democratic and Independent senator, a total of 46 senators, as well as ten Republican senators voted for Lynch.
Despite this long wait, the 55-year-old North Carolinian has been approved by the Senate and took office on Monday, April 27, 2015.
Ted Cruz, a republican from Texas, was the only senator who abstained from voting. Cruz has spoken out against Lynch a multitude of times. Allegedly, he did not vote in order to fly back to Texas to attend a fund-raising event.
According to Politico, Catherine Frazier, a spokeswoman for Cruz, stated, “He voted against cloture which was the most important vote — once invoked, her confirmation was guaranteed. As you know, Sen. Cruz led the charge to oppose her nomination, in interviews, op-eds and a floor speech today. Those responsible for her confirmation are the ones who voted for cloture,” according to Politico.
A cloture vote forces the Senate to limit the time of debate on a bill for 30 more hours, according to senate.gov.
It took 161 days for Lynch to be approved by the Senate, which is only outlasted by the confirmation of Richard Holbrooke as U.S. ambassador in 1999, which took 176 days, according to senate.gov.
During the time in which Lynch was waiting for confirmation, Eric Holder maintained his position as Attorney General. There are arguably two reasons that the Senate took approximately five months to deliberate, according to Politico.
The first is that Ms. Lynch has stated that she supports President Obama’s executive action regarding immigration, according to The New York Times. This executive action, seen as unconstitutional by many Republicans, will protect around five million undocumented people from being deported.
The second reason is related to an anti-sex trafficking bill, which originally had bipartisan support and of which Lynch is a supporter. However, once there were changes made to the bill, which included phrasing concerning abortion, many Republicans were hesitant to confirm Lynch as the attorney general. The Republicans wanted to apply Hyde amendment to the bill, which would have prevented any funding to be used for abortions, according to NPR.
On April 21, a resolution was confirmed that allowed two streams of money to pay for the bill. One would be the taxpayer money that was subjected to the Hyde amendment, and the other would be criminal fines that would be used for other victim services, according to NPR.
Shortly after this bill was approved by the Senate, Loretta Lynch was confirmed as the Attorney General.
Editor’s Note: Information from Senate.gov, US News and World Report, NPR, The Federation of American Scientists, The New York Times and Politico was used in this report.