Attorney General nominee Loretta Lynch pledged better relations with Congress amid controversies over Attorney General Eric HolderEric Himpton HolderPress: Which way do Dems go in 2020? Sunday shows preview: 2020 field begins to take shape Supreme Court race sets up new battle for Wisconsin MORE's tenure as her confirmation hearings began on Wednesday.


"I look forward to fostering a new and improved relationship with this committee, the United States Senate, and the entire United States Congress — a relationship based on mutual respect and constitutional balance," Lynch said.

The hearing for Lynch, the U.S. attorney for the Eastern District of New York, is expected to be dominated by a debate over Holder, who was found in contempt of the House and has been a lightning rod for Republican criticism.

Lynch is widely expected to be confirmed by the Senate, but she is expected to get questions about how she would handle the Justice Department (DOJ) differently from Holder.

Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Chuck GrassleyCharles (Chuck) Ernest GrassleyKlobuchar: ObamaCare a 'missed opportunity' to address drug costs Just one in five expect savings from Trump tax law: poll Divisions emerge over House drug price bills MORE (R-Iowa) brought up some of the heated controversies from Holder's tenure in his opening statement.

Grassley voiced concern over the botched "Fast and Furious" gunrunning program, and argued that the DOJ had failed to hold the IRS accountable for targeting conservative groups.

"At the end of the day, the common thread that binds all of these challenges together is a Department of Justice that is deeply politicized," Grassley said.

"I for one need to be persuaded Ms. Lynch will be an independent attorney general," he added.

Lynch's testimony also brought up the anti-police protests, many of which have been centered around New York City after a Staten Island grand jury did not indict a police officer following the death of Eric Garner, who had been put in a chokehold.

"Few things have pained me more than the recent reports of tension and division between law enforcement and the communities we serve," Lynch said. She pledged to "work to strengthen the vital relationships" if confirmed.

President Obama's immigration executive actions are sure to figure prominently in the Senate Judiciary Committee hearings as well.

“I bet everyone of the 10 [Republican] senators will have a question about executive action,” Grassley said previously.

Sen. Chuck SchumerCharles (Chuck) Ellis SchumerWhy we need to build gateway now Campaign to draft Democratic challenger to McConnell starts raising funds Schumer congratulates J. Lo and A-Rod, but says 'I'm never officiating a wedding again' MORE (D-N.Y.), in introducing Lynch, sought to focus on Lynch's individual qualifications rather than the broader controversies around the Obama administration's actions.

"The president's immigration policies are not seeking confirmation today," Schumer said. "Loretta Lynch is."

Holder stopped by Lynch's final round of preparation for the hearings on Tuesday night, DOJ said.

"Don't listen to any of them!" Holder told her. "Just be Loretta Lynch. Once those senators get to know you, they are going to love Loretta Lynch."

Lynch spoke of her upbringing in North Carolina, the experience of her parents growing up under Jim Crow and her mother Lorine, refusing to use segregated restrooms.

Her father, Lorenzo, a Baptist preacher, was in the audience.

“I believe in the promise of America because I have lived the promise of America," Lynch said.

— This report was updated at 10:50 a.m.