Nominated six months ago and cleared by the Judiciary Committee in February, Loretta Lynch remains unconfirmed as the U.S. Attorney General because the Republican Senate refuses to make the 15 minutes to do so. The Senate consistently places other matters ahead of the hearing, pushing her supporters to initiate a hunger strike in protest of the repeated delays.
Rev. Al Sharpton’s National Action Network, after learning the process could be put off several more weeks, made a commitment to raising awareness of “this completely unfair and unnecessary delay to vote to confirm Loretta Lynch.”
Senate Majority Whip John Cornyn (R-Texas) warned Wednesday that the Senate could bypass a sex trafficking bill—which was placed ahead of Lynch’s confirmation hearing—that’s been entwined with Lynch’s nomination in order to deal with Iran legislation that unanimously cleared the Senate Foreign Relations Committee on Tuesday.
Translation: Lynch, who was nominated five months ago, may have to hold on weeks longer.
Lynch, the U.S. attorney for the Eastern District of New York, would be the first Black woman to serve as the nation’s top law enforcement official. She has public support from five Senate Republicans: Orrin Hatch of Utah, Jeff Flake of Arizona, Lindsey Graham of South Carolina, Susan Collins of Maine and Mark Kirk of Illinois. With support from all Senate Democrats, that would give Lynch 51 votes, enough to be confirmed.
If only they would vote.
“Iran is a special case, so I’m not suggesting we hold up Iran for this,” Cornyn told reporters. “But I am suggesting we come back to it after Iran, particularly if [Democrats] want to release Eric Holder so they can let him make a lot of money in the private sector.”
That kind of sarcasm sums up the Republicans’ position on confirming Lynch and the Democrats’ frustration and their call for the hunger strike, dubbed “Confirm Loretta Lynch Fast.”
Sharpton’s organization and female civil-rights leaders are planning the hunger strike, in which groups of fasters will alternate days abstaining from food until Lynch is confirmed to replace Holder at the Justice Department.
The new strategy is derived from civil rights leaders like Martin Luther King Jr., Mahatma Gandhi and Cesar Chavez. It also has been used more recently against the US by captives at the Guantanamo Bay prison in Cuba.
“As long as the Senate refuses to take 15 minutes to confirm someone for Attorney General that they have already confirmed twice for U.S. Attorney,” National Action Network and its allies “will do everything in our power to draw attention to this completely unfair and unnecessary delay to vote to confirm Loretta Lynch,” Sharpton, who founded NAN, said in a statement Wednesday.
The group’s executive director, Janaye Ingram, added: “We stand with Loretta Lynch and are so in support of this cause that we are willing to sacrifice our daily meals to impress upon the U.S. Senate that it’s time to call a vote.”
The hunger strike is part of a broader campaign to publicly pressure Republican leaders to quickly hold a confirmation vote for Lynch, who has been stuck in a nomination limbo ever since she cleared the Judiciary Committee in late February. Activists also plan to blitz Senate offices urging support for Lynch, write letters to the editor and op-eds, and launch a social media drive trying to bring attention to the effort.