The GOP just agreed to get what they’ve wanted for months, and could have had from the beginning, if only they hadn’t insisted on holding out for more — which they didn’t get, but claimed to have gotten while finally agreeing to ‘compromise’. Confused? So are they.
Mitch McConnell and other Senate Republicans have been desperate to prove they can lead now that they have control of their chamber. But they’ve insisted on continuing to hold up the nomination process for Attorney General in a effort to win on an unrelated issue.
The GOP doesn’t have a problem with the nominee, Loretta Lynch, in spite of the fact that they have delayed her confirmation for 164 days. That’s the longest that any AG candidate has had to wait in 30 years.
No, quite the contrary. Not only do Republicans not want to be viewed as blocking the first black woman to ever be tapped for the job, they’re also salivating over the possibility of getting rid of the current Attorney General, Eric Holder.
So what’s the problem? On the surface, they tied up a vote on Lynch to get their way with President Obama and the Democratic Senators on a completely unrelated issue. Way to lead, guys!
The unrelated issue — a bipartisan bill on human trafficking — almost made it to a final vote. Close, but no cigar! The GOP decided to use the bill to take a stand on abortion. They insisted on a provision that would prevent a victims’ fund from paying for abortions — because everyone knows that human trafficking victims need to be punished for their sins by carrying unintended and unwanted pregnancies to term, right?
Money for the fund was to come from the federal government and from criminal fines on human traffickers. The so-called Hyde Amendment would have already prohibited funding for abortions from federally-appropriated monies, except for cases of rape and incest. However, adding a provision to the trafficking bill would have added a new prohibition concerning the use of criminal fines.
Democrats refused to go along. So here’s the final ‘compromise’. The victims’ fund won’t be used for medical payments. Instead, healthcare payments will come from Community Health Center funding, which is already subject to the Hyde Amendment, which has the exception for rape. No new limitations are included.
So what did the GOP gain for their 164 days of obstruction? Absolutely nothing! Nevertheless, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell immediately took to the Senate floor to announce:
“I’m glad we can say there is a bipartisan proposal that will allow us to complete action on this legislation so we can provide help to the victims who desperately need it.
“As soon as we finish the trafficking bill, as I’ve indicated for some time now, we’ll move to the president’s nominee for attorney general in the next day or so.”
In reality, the Democrats prevented the GOP from imposing new restrictions on abortion, plus they should get their vote on Loretta Lynch on Wednesday or Thursday. And the GOP gets to claim they’re helping victims who are in such desperate need that Republicans delayed action for 164 days.
But, just in case anyone might make the mistake of thinking the GOP actually did lead in this battle, the party’s asshole-in-residence, John McCain, opened his big mouth and told Politico the truth on Monday. Loretta Lynch and countless other nominees are being deliberately held up as ‘payback’ for the Dems. Their offense? Using the ‘nuclear option’ in 2013 to blast loose the logjam of nominees piling up at the Senate.
The nuclear option changed the rules on approving executive branch nominees — except those for Supreme Court justice — by making the various steps of the process subject to a simple majority vote rather than a super-majority. After the change, 96 judges and 302 executive nominees were approved by the Senate.
McCain has never gotten over it. Politico quotes him as saying:
“I told [Democrats]: ‘You jam them through, it’s going to be a long time before I approve of them. It’s affected me as chairman of the Armed Services Committee.”
Ah, poor baby. Americans must have forgotten that the movie they’re watching stars John McCain, and only John McCain. However, he is perpetually here to remind them.
If the rest of the Republican Senators want to prove they’re not playing McCain’s payback game, the opportunity is sitting before them. Get to Loretta Lynch’s hearing quickly, then deal with the other 17 pending nominations on the Senate floor, as well as the 130 that are still in committees.
Clear that quagmire and the country can talk about whether there’s any leadership coming out of the GOP-controlled Senate.