The confirmation waiting game surrounding Loretta Lynch as the nation’s first Black woman attorney general has gotten so bizarre that a coalition of prominent Black women took to conducting a prayer vigil yesterday in the halls of Congress to get the attention of the Republican leadership that refuses to put her nomination to a vote.
Lynch has been waiting 138 days for action on her nomination—a longer time period than the last five attorney general candidates combined and the longest waiting time in 31 years. The average wait time for an attorney general nominee? Eighteen days.
Republicans can’t even give straight answers about the reason for the hold-up. It appears to be whatever they’re currently most angry at President Obama over. This week it was something about an abortion debate occurring over a bill concerning human trafficking.
Yesterday morning, well-known faith leader Dr. Barbara Williams-Skinner was leading the group of 20 Black women in prayer outside the doors of Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell’s offices on Capitol Hill.
“We will not be moved, we will not go back, we will not stop,” she said, as McConnell’s staff and U.S. Capitol police officers stirred nearby, according to a report on The Root.
McConnell’s staff never let the women inside to see him. They were told that he was too busy. The group included attorney Barbara Arnwine, president of the Lawyers Committee on Civil Rights; Melanie Campbell, president of the National Coalition on Black Civic Participation; Sheila Tyson, a city councilwoman from Birmingham, Ala.; and Marcia Dyson, CEO of the Women’s Global Initiative.
“If it looks like a duck and talks like a duck, it’s a duck. The duck is that she’s being treated differently. That’s a standard that allows some people to call this both racist and sexist,” Williams-Skinner told reporters a few feet from McConnell’s door.
“We now stand in the halls of the United States Senate and 138 days have gone by and this qualified African-American woman has not been confirmed. The country is now without a newly confirmed leader at the Department of Justice,” said Rep. Sheila Jackson Lee (D-Texas), a member of the House Judiciary Committee.
Last week, Senate Democratic Whip Dick Durbin, Democrat of Illinois, got so upset by the delay that he stood up on the floor of the Senate and compared her to Rosa Parks.
Lynch was being “forced to sit on the back of the bus,” Durbin said.
Republicans didn’t take kindly to the comparison. The Senate’s only Black Republican, Sen. Tim Scott (R-S.C.), was upset at the racial implications, while Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.) called on Durbin to apologize.
There is growing concern among Democrats that they might not have enough votes now to get Lynch confirmed. New Jersey Sen. Bob Menendez, who has just been indicted by the Justice Department that Lynch would head, has indicated he might abstain from voting. They could leave the Democrats one vote short.
Congress isn’t scheduled to come back from Easter break until April 13, so it’s certain Lynch will be waiting at least two more weeks.