Lawmakers return to Washington this week following a two-week spring break. Loretta Lynch, meanwhile, remains stuck in procedural purgatory with little to suggest that the partisan fighting that has trapped her there will end anytime soon.
It has now been more than five months since President Obama formally tapped Lynch to replace U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder atop the Department of Justice, and more than one month since the Judiciary Committee finally got around to officially signing off on her nomination. Despite that extended delay—which has now lasted longer than the combined time the previous eight nominees for the job had to wait for confirmation—Senate Republicans have made it clear that they won’t give Lynch a vote until the chamber settles an unrelated, and potentially unending, fight over abortion funding in a human trafficking bill currently stalled in the upper chamber.
This month’s congressional recess appears to have done little to help Senate leaders hash out their differences on the funding issue. Instead, time apart appears to have only convinced both sides that they have the upper hand, via Politico:
Republicans figure it’s only a matter of time before Democrats acquiesce and accept a provision in an anti-human trafficking bill that would put some restrictions on abortion funding — particularly because the Senate has to turn around and vote for a sweeping Medicare payments package that includes similar abortion limits. Democrats counter that muddying an otherwise noncontroversial trafficking bill with abortion politics, and stymying Lynch’s confirmation vote in the process, is a political loser for Republicans.
The Easter break did, however, provide a sliver of good news for Lynch. Republican Sen. Mark Kirk said that he would vote for her confirmation if given the chance, and Democratic Sen. Bob Menendez said the same, ending speculation that he would abstain from voting given he’s been indicted by the Justice Department on corruption charges. Informal whip counts suggest that with those two votes locked up, Lynch has at least 51 “aye” votes, enough for confirmation if Republicans ever allow her nomination to come up for a vote on the Senate floor. Of course, whether that eventually happens remains to be seen.