Is race a factor in Loretta Lynch delay? WH won’t say

A litany of prominent Democrats have said race has played a role in the delay of Loretta Lynch’s confirmation as attorney general. But the White House won’t say whether it agrees. 
Lynch would become the first African-American woman to serve as the nation’s top law enforcement officer, but she has gone 137 days without receiving a confirmation vote in the Senate. 
Press secretary Josh Earnest was asked five times Wednesday whether Republicans are delaying a vote on Lynch because of her race. He dodged the question each time.
{mosads}“I think that the delay we have seen from Senate Republicans is indefensible,” he told reporters. “I think you’d have to ask them about why they think this delay is somehow in the best interest in the country. I feel very confident in telling you that it is not.”
For a week, the contentious battle over Lynch’s nomination has become consumed by racial accusations.
Rep. Emanuel Cleaver (D-Mo.) became the latest lawmaker to inject race into the debate Wednesday, telling Bloomberg News that failing to confirm Lynch would be “yet another sign” that race relations have not improved. 
Republicans have repeatedly said race is not a factor. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) has he will not allow a vote on Lynch until the Senate can pass a human trafficking bill, which has been stalled due to a dispute over abortion language. 
“The only thing holding up that vote is the Democrats’ filibuster of a bill that would help prevent kids from being sold into sex slavery,” McConnell spokesman Don Stewart said in a statement. 
The No. 2 Senate Democrat, Dick Durbin (Ill.), was the first to raise the issue of race on March 18, when he compared Lynch’s nomination battle to Rosa Parks during a floor speech. 
“Loretta Lynch, the first African-American woman nominated to be attorney general, is asked to sit in the back of the bus when it comes to the Senate calendar,” he said. 
Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.) called on Durbin to apologize for his remarks, but so far the Democrat has not taken them back. 
Rep. Corrine Brown (Fla.) joined other Democrats in saying race is one reason for the holdup. 
“If it looks like a duck, walks like a duck and quacks like a duck, it’s a duck, and it is clear to me that there is hidden racism rampant in the House and the Senate,” she said last week, according to CNN.
In an interview Friday with The Huffington Post, Obama stopped short of saying race is a factor in Republicans’ decision to push back Lynch’s nomination.  
“I don’t know about that,” he said. “What I do know is she is imminently qualified. Nobody denies it; even the Republicans acknowledge she has been a great prosecutor.”
Eric Holder, whom Lynch will replace as attorney general if confirmed, also said race has not played a major role.
“My guess is that there is probably not a huge racial component to this, that this is really just D.C. politics, Washington at its worst,” Holder said in an interview with MSNBC. “A battle about something that is not connected to this nominee — holding up this nominee. I think that’s the main driver here.”
On Monday, Earnest was determined not to be drawn into accusing Republicans of delaying Lynch’s confirmation for racial reasons. 
“I know that there have been a number of people who have tried to figure out an explanation for this indefensible delay,” he said. “There are a lot of theories. I frankly don’t have a lot of clarity about why we would continue to delay the nomination of an individual who has strong bipartisan support and who is eminently qualified for this very important job.”
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