NEW YORK – Amid a Gandhi-like hunger strike organized by Al Sharpton’s National Action Network, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell is holding to a legislative schedule that likely will further delay a vote on the confirmation of Loretta Lynch, President Obama’s nominee to succeed Eric Holder as attorney general.
McConnell’s office confirmed to WND that before the Lynch confirmation vote comes to the floor, the Senate is scheduled to resume consideration of S. 178, the Justice for Victims of Trafficking Act. Democrats in the Senate could filibuster the bill to prevent adoption of the Hyde Amendment, which prohibits use of federal funds to finance abortions except in the event of rape or incest, or to save the life of the mother.
A statement posted Wednesday on Sharpton’s website announced women civil rights leaders in conjunction with the National Action Network were launching a fasting campaign, “Confirm Lynch Fast.” Sharpton noted it was inspired by the examples of Martin Luther King Jr., Mahatma Gandhi and Cesar Chavez, “who used fasting or hunger strikes as a nonviolent approach to resolving conflict.”
“These outstanding women leaders are taking an exemplary moral stand that should shake the conscience of the nation as to how unfairly this qualified woman is being treated by Senate leadership,” Sharpton said.
“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, NAN and our allies will do everything in our power to draw attention to this completely unfair and unnecessary delay to vote to confirm Loretta Lynch,” Sharpton said.
According to Sharpton’s website, participants in the Confirm Lynch Fast effort will refrain from eating for one day at a time until Lynch is confirmed as attorney general, with a new group of people replacing each day the fasters from the day before.
Politico reported Wednesday that activists plan to blitz Senate offices to urge support for Lynch and write letters and op-ed pieces.
As WND reported in February, Lynch’s confirmation vote in the Senate initially was postponed after Sen. David Vitter, R-La., a member of the Senate Judiciary Committee, opened an investigation of Lynch’s role in the decision not to criminally prosecute HSBC. Vitter launched the probe after his staff quizzed a former HSBC employee, John Cruz, whose trove of original evidence of money laundering was reported first by WND.
Since then, Vitter’s office has continued pressing GOP senators quietly behind the scenes to vote against Lynch’s confirmation.
On March 17, the Senate fell short by four votes of the 60 needed to advance the trafficking act to final Senate passage. A 56-42 vote failed to get cloture, allowing the Democratic Party to continue a standoff led by Minority Leader Harry Reid that has kept the trafficking bill before the Senate, blocking a vote on Lynch’s confirmation.
Reid is seeking to remove or amend what is commonly known as the Hyde amendment, a provision first enacted in 1976 to stop federal funding of abortions for Medicaid provisions. It has been attached in various forms to a wide variety of bills for decades.
Lynch still faces a tough confirmation battle on the Senate floor with only five Republicans – Sens. Orrin Hatch, Lindsay Graham, Jeff Flake, Susan Collins and Mark Kirk – committed to voting for her, the bare minimum necessary to reach 51 votes, presuming all Senate Democrats approve.
McConnell’s continued efforts to delay the Lynch confirmation vote is widely viewed by Washington insiders as a GOP rebuke to President Obama’s various executive actions, including the “amnesty” many GOP voters believe President Obama put in place last November by executive fiat. Republicans also have criticized the Obama administration’s reluctance to acknowledge a legitimate role for Senate consideration before sanctions are removed as a result of any agreement Secretary of State John Kerry may conclude with Iran.
On Tuesday, the White House accepted compromise legislation, voted 19-0 out of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, giving Congress a say on a final Iran deal.
While it has been five months since Lynch was nominated to be attorney general, the delay in her confirmation vote is not the longest in recent U.S. history.
On Feb. 23 1985, the Senate in a 63-31 vote confirmed President Reagan’s nomination of Edwin Meese III to be attorney general after a 13-month wait.
All of the negative votes against Meese were cast by Democrats had questioned the ethics of Meese’s championing of various people for federal jobs with whom he had had personal financial transactions.