Wednesday marked the first day of Loretta Lynch’s confirmation hearings, and Lynch, who was nominated by the President for the job, faced a slew of tough questions from her Republican opponents on the judiciary panel.
If confirmed, Lynch would replace current attorney general Eric Holder and become the first Black female attorney general. Her top priorities would include repairing trust between law enforcement agencies and their communities, as well as prosecuting terrorists and improving cybersecurity.
“If confirmed as Attorney General, I will continue to build upon the department’s record of vigorously prosecuting those who prey on those most in need of our protection,” she said during her opening statement. “I will continue to provide strong and effective assistance to survivors who we must both support and empower.”
She faces a challenge from the GOP-controlled Congress, which interrogated her stance on immigration, focusing on President Obama’s lax policies. Lynch, who is currently the U.S. attorney for the Eastern District of New York, said that citizenship is a privilege that immigrants must earn, but “the right and the obligation to work is one that’s shared by everyone in this country, regardless of how they came here.”
Democrats, however, want to make sure that the panel’s questions focus on Lynch, not the President’s policies.
“The president’s immigration policies are not seeking confirmation today,” Senator Charles E. Schumer (D-NY) said. “If we can’t confirm Loretta Lynch, then I don’t believe we can confirm anyone.”
In order to move her nomination from the panel to the legislature floor, she needs the vote of at least three Republican members. She is expected to receive those votes, if for no other reason than to end Holder’s tenure. Through the years, Holder has clashed with Republican congressmen because of his staunchly liberal agenda.
President Obama nominated Lynch more than two months ago. However, because of Congressional shift in power as well as the Republicans’ apathetic attitude toward Lynch, her confirmation could come as late as March.