President Obama accused his right-wing rivals of holding Lynch "hostage" as lawmakers fight over a human trafficking bill that has become intertwined with an abortion dispute.
Obama nominated Lynch in November to replace the retiring Eric Holder as the nation's top law enforcement official, yet months later the position still has not been confirmed. If confirmed by the Senate, she would become the first black woman to serve in the post.
Democrats are blocking human trafficking legislation after Republicans inserted anti-abortion language into the bill. In turn, Republicans have linked Lynch's approval to passage of the bill.
Meanwhile Democratic Senator Dick Durbin this week suggested race as a factor in holding up the nomination, saying Republicans are asking Lynch to "to sit in the back of the bus," alluding to bygone segregation policies restricting black people to seats at the back of buses.
Obama denied that race was a factor but did express dissatisfaction that Lynch's nomination was being delayed.
"The fact that she has now been lingering in this limbo for longer than the five previous attorney general nominees combined makes no sense," Obama said.
Current attorney general Eric Holder also expressed doubts that Lynch's race is a factor.
Lynch's nomination has also been criticized by the powerful gun lobby in the U.S. Republican Senator John McCain told a radio program that he believes, “No Republican should vote for her confirmation.”
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