A little history was made Thursday when the nomination of Loretta E. Lynch, of New York, to be Attorney General turned into a confirmation. In a 56-43 vote, that included both Ohio senators who represent different political parties casting similar votes for a change, Lynch became the first-ever African-American woman to hold the post and only the second woman to win the Senate’s consent.
Brown And Portman Vote Yes But For Different Reasons
While the historic vote for Loretta Lynch was preceded by a procedural vote that boded well for her, garnering 15 more votes than the 51 needed for passage, when it came time to make history, one voice was not only silent but had actually left the building . First-term Texas firebrand Sen. Ted Cruz, who became the first Republican to declare for president a couple weeks ago, was the only senator to not cast a vote following the loss by his side of a lopsided cloture motion vote.
“The Republican majority if it so chose could defeat this confirmation,” Cruz, said as reported by the New York Times. Cruz went so far as to call her “lawless” in remarks he made earlier today. Seems the senator had other places to be other than being witness to this moment of American exceptionalism that with some luck might turn its authority on the very kind of strategies that have broken America’s democracy that could come back and bite the Texas senator in his next election. For Sen. Cruz, he had a fund-raiser to attend.
Sen. Brown praised the vote in a statement:
“After months of needless delay, the Senate has put aside partisan differences in favor of progress to confirm Loretta Lynch as U.S. Attorney General,” Brown said. “Ms. Lynch has a proven track record of fighting for justice and equal rights and she will bring that dedication to advocacy to her role. I’m confident that, under her leadership, the Department of Justice will stand up for voting rights and a fair criminal justice system.”
Sen. Brown was upset with many aspects of this nomination, but the lengthy time was among his top concerns. The time the Lynch nomination had been pending on the Senate floor was as long as the five most recent Attorneys General combined.
Sen. Portman also issued a statement explaining his vote on Lynch, which was more directed at the current AG Eric Holder. Expressing the need for new leadership at the Justice Department, Portman’s vote for Lynch was motivated in part by his desire to move Holder out.
“I have serious concerns about the current Attorney General, who has stated that he will stay until a new Attorney General is confirmed. No one disputes that Ms. Lynch is well-qualified. She has extensive experience as a U.S. Attorney, including dealing with cases regarding national security. I believe her long career as a federal prosecutor would bring a different, and less politicized, perspective to the job,” he said
Portman, who’s running for another senate term next year, said he has strongly opposed the President’s executive actions on immigration, which he says are illegal and unconstitutional. Portman raised those issues with Ms. Lynch, whereupon she assured him that she will act on the court order currently blocking the implementation of the President’s executive order. Portman isn’t a big fan of some of Lynch’s other positions, including on protecting Second Amendment rights. “However, I believe Ms. Lynch would be an improvement, she is qualified for the position, and I intend to vote yes to confirm her.”
Brown and Portman voted for Lynch today and will again be together tomorrow, Friday, when they join The Ohio State University President Michael Drake and the John Glenn family at the official ribbon cutting of the new John Glenn College of Public Affairs. The John Glenn School of Public Affairs now has more than 550 students and 21 faculty and will become the 15th college at OSU.
Portman is already facing two Democrats who want his seat next year who have declared their candidacy, P.G. Sittenfeld, a Cincinnati City Councilman, and Ted Strickland, a former governor of Ohio.
White House Weigh-In
Aside from Mrs. Lynch her self, no one was happier than the president himself. Citing her lifetime fight for fair and equal justice, in her new job as head of the Justice Department, President Obama said she’ll oversee a vast portfolio of cases, including counterterrorism and voting rights; public corruption and white-collar crime; judicial recommendations and policy reviews.
“She will bring to bear her experience as a tough, independent, and well-respected prosecutor on key, bipartisan priorities like criminal justice reform. And she will build on our progress in combatting newer threats like cybercrime. Loretta’s confirmation ensures that we are better positioned to keep our communities safe, keep our nation secure, and ensure that every American experiences justice under the law.”