|11:07 AM EDT||
Dick Durbin, D-IL
Mr. DURBIN. Mr. President, it has been 165 days--5 1/2 months--since the nomination of Loretta Lynch to be Attorney General was announced. Ms. Lynch has been pending on the Senate Executive Calendar for nearly 2 months. She was reported out of the Senate Judiciary Committee in a bipartisan vote--nine Democrats and three Republicans--on February 26. This is a new record, sadly, in terms of delay in appointing an Attorney General. The last seven nominees to be Attorney General of the United States
combined--combined--waited on the Senate floor 24 days--seven nominees, 24 days.
Sadly, Ms. Lynch has now been waiting over 50 days. Why? What is it about this nominee that causes so much of a problem? Nothing came up at the Judiciary Committee hearing to suggest a problem. Yes, she was appointed by Barack Obama. Yes, she has said she will serve this President. But when it came to her personally, there was nothing. In fact, we have this tradition that after the nominee has testified under oath, then experts are brought in. Each party can bring an expert in to testify for
or against the Attorney General nominee. Senator Patrick Leahy, the ranking Democrat on Judiciary, said to the assembled group--I think there may have been 10 or 12 of these outside witnesses: Which of you, by show of hands, objects to the nomination of Loretta Lynch for Attorney General? Not a single one raised his hand--none. So even the witnesses that were brought to speak in negative terms all conceded that she should be Attorney General.
That is rare. It is rare to have a nominee with that kind of affirmation come out of the Senate Judiciary Committee--and for good reason. When you look at her record, you can understand why. This young woman has an extraordinary record of service. She grew up in North Carolina as the daughter of a minister and a school librarian. Her dad was there at her hearing. Her father was smiling as she recalled those instances when she was a very young girl, and he would sit her on his shoulders and take
her to see the civil rights events that occurred when she was so young.
She received her undergraduate and law degrees from Harvard University. She has private sector experience at prestigious law firms. She has twice been confirmed unanimously by the Senate to serve as U.S. attorney for the Eastern District of New York. She served in that position with distinction.
Her nomination has been endorsed by a wide range of groups, representing law enforcement, prosecutors, bar associations, business leaders, civil rights organizations, and former Justice Department officials from both Democratic and Republican administrations. In what may be one of the most amazing ironies of this whole situation, Loretta Lynch has been recognized as a leader when it comes to prosecuting human traffickers. Why is that significant? Because the Republican leader announced that he
was holding up her nomination until we passed a bill on human trafficking.
Here is a woman who, as a prosecutor and professional, has prosecuted the [Page: S2286]
people guilty of that crime, and she is being delayed in her appointment as Attorney General of the United States of America because of a political debate on the floor of the Senate for almost 4 weeks over this bill.
Under Ms. Lynch's leadership, the U.S. Attorney's office in the Eastern District of New York has brought many important prosecutions in human trafficking. In United States v. Lopez, three brothers were convicted in 2014 for running a human trafficking ring involving 14- and 15-year-old girls. Ms. Lynch was also involved in the successful prosecution of the Granados-Hernandez sex trafficking ring, in which numerous child trafficking victims were reunited with their mothers. In United States v.
Johnson, Ms. Loretta Lynch was involved in a prosecution where a Queens man was convicted for trafficking and prostituting a 15-year-old girl out of his home.
Make no mistake, when it comes to the issue of human trafficking, this nominee for Attorney General knows more about the subject than most, and she has a record to prove it. Malika Saada Saar, the executive director of Rights4Girls, is one of the Nation's leading antitrafficking advocates. She said: ``It is clear that as the top prosecutor in Brooklyn, New York, Lynch has a strong record of being tough on crime and human trafficking.'' She has been held up on the floor because of our failure
to pass a bill on that same subject.
Here is what the President of the National District Attorneys Association, Michael Moore, said about Ms. Loretta Lynch when he wrote to express his organization's strong support for her: ``As prosecutors facing challenges in the field from violent crime, to human trafficking, to gangs and drug traffickers, our membership feels that Ms. Lynch understands the operational nature of these challenges and will be a strong independent voice at the helm of the Department.''
Calling a vote on Ms. Lynch and confirming her would be a big step forward in the fight against trafficking. It is time to end this delay and obstruction. This extraordinary woman nominated by the President of the United States to be the first African-American woman to serve as Attorney General should have been approved by the Senate long ago. While she has been waiting patiently for a long, long time, we have interrupted the business of the Senate to approve the President's appointments for
Assistant Secretary of Transportation, Assistant Secretary of Commerce, Federal Mine Safety and Health Review Commissioners, Federal Retirement Thrift Investment Board Members, Undersecretary for Management at the Department of Homeland Security, Chairman of the National Indian Gaming Commission, and several Federal judges.
We have had more than adequate opportunity to call Ms. Lynch for approval. Let us not leave Washington this week without voting on Loretta Lynch to be our next Attorney General. I voted for her in committee and will proudly support her nomination in the hopes that it will come to the floor this week.
I yield the floor.
I suggest the absence of a quorum.