Schumer To Senate Committee: Avoid Immigration Squabbles And Confirm Lynch As AG

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Loretta Lynch with Senator Schumer

I am so glad that this committee is finally – finally – moving to a vote on Loretta Lynch’s nomination.  She has already been pending on the calendar longer than any other Attorney General nominee in recent history.

And I want to take a moment to commend her on her performance. I thought she was level-headed, courteous, and incredibly thoughtful in her responses; from constitutional questions to personal questions and everything in between. She knocked it out of the park.

I am discouraged and disappointed, however, by what I am hearing some of my friends on the other side of the aisle say about Ms. Lynch and why they are voting against her.

I know that some of my friends on the other side of the aisle have been waging all-out war against the President’s immigration policies.

First, they wanted to hold up funding for the Department of Homeland Security unless the President’s policies were overturned.

Fortunately, my colleagues in the Senate are helping us move past that impasse, and we hope the House will do the same in short order.

But now, some of my friends on the other side are saying we should hold up Loretta Lynch to get the President to overturn his immigration executive orders.

Let me be crystal clear – the place for this battle is in the courts. Political fights over immigration should not hold up Loretta Lynch, DHS funding, or anything else.

But the hard right, upset over the President’s immigration policies, is grasping at straws to have a fight, any fight, over immigration. Loretta Lynch, a supremely qualified nominee for a vital national security and law enforcement post, should never have been pulled into the fray.

We are happy to debate immigration on the merits, but we refuse to allow a monkey wrench to be thrown into the process of governing and protecting this nation over political disagreements.

I have to tell you, I feel a little like I’m in the Twilight Zone this week – it is like an alternate reality where my colleagues across the aisle, who have strong records and history of supporting our national security, are first blocking the funding for DHS and second blocking the chief law enforcement officer.

Regardless of your views on the President’s executive order, Loretta Lynch has proven beyond a reasonable doubt that she’d be an outstanding Attorney General.

The other objection I keep hearing is that Ms. Lynch has not answered questions.  Let’s be clear: that is a canard. Ms. Lynch has answered more QFRs – over 800 – than any other nominee in history.

And her responses have not been substantively different from her predecessors.

For example, when Michael Mukasey was nominated for Attorney General, I asked him about whether he would investigate the immigration backload and tell us what further authority and resources was needed to remedy the problem.

In response, he said “As I am not familiar with the specifics of the current backlog, I cannot give a responsible or informed estimate. I agree that it is critical for the Department to have sufficient resources to carry out its responsibilities.”

I also asked him if he thought that DOJ needs stronger tools to combat voter intimidation in federal elections, and he answered, “I have not studied this issue in sufficient detail to offer comment.”

These answers are the same as what my colleagues are complaining about Ms. Lynch saying.  And guess what?  I voted for Judge Mukasey.  And so did all of my colleagues on the other side who were in the Senate at the time.

So I don’t really think this objection has a lot of credibility.

I won’t take up any more time Mr. Chairman, but in conclusion I would just urge my colleagues to not be fooled by some of the overhyped rhetoric, and to not let this nomination get mired in a political fight that is totally unrelated.

I want to remind my colleagues that you aren’t voting today for or against the President’s policies, you’re voting on this eminently qualified law enforcement professional, a first-rate legal mind and someone who is committed in her bones to the equal application of justice for all people.

 

Charles Schumer is a U.S. Senator (D-New York)

 

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