WHIP LIST: Portman adds to GOP ‘yes’ votes for Lynch

Greg Nash

Loretta Lynch has support from seven Republicans, enough to secure her confirmation as the first female African-American attorney general, with a vote on her nomination coming this week after a months-long delay.

The slim GOP support, coupled with the universal backing of the Democratic caucus, would give her 53 votes, allowing her to squeak through in one of the closest recent votes for the nation’s top law enforcement post.

{mosads}Her nomination had stalled amid a Senate fight over abortion language in a bill to combat human trafficking with Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) refusing to take up her nomination until the bill passed.

Senate leaders announced Tuesday that they had finally reached a deal on the trafficking bill, setting up a vote on Lynch later this week.

Lynch has struggled to pick up Republican support, with the vast majority of GOP senators opposing her because she views Obama’s actions on immigration as legal.

But Republican Sens. Kelly Ayotte (N.H.), Susan Collins (Maine), Jeff Flake (Ariz.), Lindsey Graham (S.C.), Orrin Hatch (Utah), Mark Kirk (Ill.) and Rob Portman (Ohio) say they will vote for her even though they don’t back her on every issue.

Republicans are eager to replace Attorney General Eric Holder, with whom they’ve had a contentious relationship. But many remain wary Lynch will not provide a strong and independent check on Obama’s agenda. Twenty-eight Republicans have told The Hill they will oppose her on the Senate floor.

The vote of Sen. Robert Menendez (D-N.J.) could also be crucial. Menendez has been indicted by federal prosecutors on corruption charges. He has pleaded not guilty and says he will stay in office. A representative for Menendez said the senator will vote for Lynch.

Lynch’s Senate vote could be the closest in recent memory for an attorney general nominee.

In 2007, Michael Mukasey was confirmed as then-President George W. Bush’s attorney general in a 53-40 vote, the closest for the position in a half-century.

Even the controversial Holder won the support of most Republicans on the Judiciary Committee and was confirmed in a 75-21 Senate vote in February 2009.

Here is a list of how senators are expected to vote on Lynch’s nomination. The Hill will update this list continually.

Lucy Feickert, Kelly Kaler, Marianna Sotomayor, Alison Thoet and Jordain Carney contributed.

Last updated April 23 at 1:22 p.m.




Yes (7)

Sen. Kelly Ayotte (R-N.H.) — “Attorney General Eric Holder’s dismal performance and failure to follow and enforce the law for the past seven years has eroded Americans’ confidence in the Department of Justice’s ability to fulfill its responsibility to ensure that justice is administered fairly and equally,” said Ayotte in a statement. “It’s time for a new leader at the Department.” The former prosecutor is one of Democrats’ top targets in 2016.

Sen. Susan Collins (R-Maine) — “I found her very impressive and I think she deserves to be confirmed,” Collins said in an interview. “For those in my caucus who have been upset with some of the decisions made by Attorney General Holder, as I have been, the sooner he can be replaced by a career prosecutor, the better off our country will be.”

Sen. Jeff Flake (R-Ariz.)

Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.)

Sen. Orrin Hatch (R- Utah) — Hatch voted for Lynch in committee, “because her record of service over several decades shows that she is well-qualified to be attorney general.”

Sen. Mark Kirk (R-Ill.) — “I am confident from my conversation with Loretta Lynch that she will be a valuable partner in confronting the gang violence that is robbing families of their children every day in Chicago. We need the help of the Attorney General to fight gangs of national significance through federal law enforcement agencies and prosecutors, and to address organized crime like drug and child sex trafficking,” Kirk said in a statement. 

Sen. Rob Portman (R-Ohio) — The senator said in a statement that new leadership is needed at the Department of Justice.


No (28)

Sen. Lamar Alexander (R-Tenn.) — “I will vote against President Obama’s nomination of Loretta Lynch for attorney general of the United States. This is an opportunity, within the Senate rules, to express my disapproval of the president’s abuse of executive authority, and it’s an opportunity I intend to take,” Alexander said in a statement.

Sen. John Barrasso (R-Wyo.)

Sen. Roy Blunt (R-Mo.) — Blunt said he would vote against Lynch in a statement because she would “simply continue to uphold President Obama’s flawed agenda.”

Sen. John Boozman (R-Ark.) — “Senator Boozman will not vote in support of Loretta Lynch,” spokeswoman Sara Lasure told The Hill.

Sen. Richard Burr (R-N.C.) — “He will not be voting for Lynch’s confirmation,” spokeswoman Rebecca Glover Watkins told The Hill.

Sen. Bill Cassidy (R-La.) — “Key decisions the president has made are wrong, like executive amnesty. Although Loretta Lynch is well-qualified, it’s hard for me to support someone who supports that decision,” Cassidy said in a statement.

Sen. Dan Coats (R-Ind.) — “Ms. Lynch’s expressed view that President Obama’s executive amnesty is lawful demonstrates that she is not the right person to serve as our country’s chief law enforcement officer,” Coats said in a statement. “The executive branch cannot write laws or selectively enforce them based on political prerogatives. We need an independent attorney general who will enforce the law as written.”

Sen. Bob Corker (R-Tenn.) — “The job of the U.S. attorney general is to enforce federal laws as written, not as the administration wishes they were written,” Corker said. “While I believe Ms. Lynch is an impressive attorney and a committed public servant, nothing revealed during our personal meeting or at her confirmation hearing has assured me that she will be an independent attorney general and refrain from selective enforcement of the law, and therefore I will not be supporting her confirmation.”

Sen. John Cornyn (R-Texas)

Sen. Mike Crapo (R-Idaho)

Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Texas) — “Personally, I wanted to support Ms. Lynch’s nomination. However, the answers she gave at her confirmation hearing are, in my view, disqualifying for serving as our nation’s chief law enforcement officer,” he wrote in a Politico op-ed.

Sen. Steve Daines (R-Mont.) — “Ms. Lynch has an accomplished career as the United States Attorney in the Eastern District of New York and has built a strong and admirable resume. Her capability as a litigator is clear. A strong resume is a necessary but not sufficient qualification for confirmation. After carefully considering Ms. Lynch’s testimony before the Senate Judiciary Committee, I am not confident, nor do I believe, that she will be an independent voice or nonpartisan leader that will defend the rule of law,” he said in a press release.

Sen. Joni Ernst (R-Iowa) — “I have some very serious concerns with Loretta Lynch, especially during her testimony when she had stated that she does uphold what the president has done and his decisions, especially when it comes to executive amnesty,” she told Radio Iowa last month.

Sen. Deb Fischer (R-Neb.) — Fischer told the Omaha World-Herald she was “very disturbed and disappointed” by Lynch’s support of Obama’s immigration actions. She initially showed signs she could support Lynch.

Sen. Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa) — “Chairman Grassley opposed the confirmation of Ms. Lynch in the Senate Judiciary Committee. I expect his vote on the floor to reflect his vote in committee,” said communications manager Jill Gerber.

Sen. John Hoeven (N.D.)

Sen. James Lankford (R-Okla.)

Sen. Mike Lee (R-Utah)

Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.) — McCain told conservative radio host Hugh Hewitt that “no Republican” should vote for Lynch.

Sen. Shelley Moore Capito (R-W.Va.) — “Despite her qualifications, I am not confident that Loretta Lynch will exercise the independence needed to stand up for the proper separation of powers, and I will not support her nomination,” Moore Capito said in a statement.

Sen. Jerry Moran (R-Kan.) — “The attorney general is our nation’s most senior law enforcement official, and Americans must be certain the rule of law will be applied fairly and consistently by the Department of Justice. After careful consideration of the president’s nominee, I am unconvinced Loretta Lynch meets this standard and am unable to support her confirmation,” Moran said in a statement.

Sen. David Perdue (R-Ga.)

Sen. Rand Paul (R-Ky.)

Sen. Pat Roberts (R-Kan.)

Sen. Jeff Sessions (R-Ala.)

Sen. Thom Tillis (R-N.C.)

Sen. David Vitter (R-La.) — “Attorneys general do not swear an oath to the president, they swear an oath to uphold the Constitution. Their job is not to justify clearly illegal actions on behalf of the president, it is to defend the Constitution against executive overreach,” he said in a statement.

Sen. Roger Wicker (R-Miss.) — “I cannot support an attorney general nominee who is willing to engage in, or permit, discretionary enforcement of the law,” Wicker said. “I believe the White House’s politicization of the Justice Department under Eric Holder has eroded the integrity of the agency. Voting in favor of this nomination would be tantamount to an endorsement of the administration’s strategy to pick and choose which laws to enforce based on political calculations.”


Unknown (2)

Sen. Thad Cochran (R-Miss.) — “Sen. Cochran has not indicated how he might vote on her confirmation,” said press secretary Chris Gallegos.

Sen. Mike Enzi (R-Wyo.)  



Members of the Senate Democratic Conference signed a letter last month calling Lynch “qualified and ready to serve,” and urging a quick confirmation vote on the floor.


Yes (44)

Sen. Tammy Baldwin (D-Wis.)

Sen. Michael Bennet (D-Colo.)

Sen. Richard Blumenthal (D-Conn.)

Sen. Cory Booker (D-N.J.)

Sen. Barbara Boxer (D-Calif.)

Sen. Sherrod Brown (D-Ohio)

Sen. Maria Cantwell (D-Wash.)

Sen. Ben Cardin (D-Md.) — “Refusing to allow a confirmation vote on Loretta Lynch’s nomination to be the next attorney general is pure politics and unprecedented Republican obstructionism. It’s just not fair. Loretta Lynch is impressive and very well-qualified to be the next attorney general,” Cardin said in a statement.

Sen. Tom Carper (D-Del.)

Sen. Bob Casey Jr. (D-Pa.) — “U.S. Attorney Lynch is a superb nominee and I look forward to supporting her nomination on the Senate floor,” Casey said.

Sen. Chris Coons (D-Del.)

Sen. Joe Donnelly (D-Ind.)

Sen. Dick Durbin (D-Ill.) — “Senator Durbin strongly supports her nomination,” a representative said.

Sen. Al Franken (D-Minn.)

Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.) — “Senator Feinstein strongly supports Loretta Lynch’s nomination and will be voting for her on the floor, as she did in committee,” said deputy press secretary Ashley Schapitl.

Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand (D-N.Y.)

Sen. Martin Heinrich (D-N.M.)

Sen. Heidi Heitkamp (D-N.D.)

Sen. Mazie Hirono (D-Hawaii)

Sen. Tim Kaine (D-Va.)

Sen. Amy Klobuchar (D-Minn.)

Sen. Patrick Leahy (D-Vt.)

Sen. Joe Manchin (D-W.Va.)

Sen. Ed Markey (D-Mass.)

Sen. Claire McCaskill (D-Mo.)

Sen. Robert Menendez (D-N.J.)

Sen. Jeff Merkley (D-Ore.)

Sen. Barbara Mikulski (D-Md.)

Sen. Chris Murphy (D-Conn.)

Sen. Patty Murray (D-Wash.)

Sen. Bill Nelson (D-Fla.)

Sen. Gary Peters (D-Mich.)

Sen. Jack Reed (D-R.I.)

Sen. Harry Reid (D-Nev.) — “Ms. Lynch has a spotless record and credentials that are above reproach. There is absolutely no reason that she should have to wait any longer for confirmation,” the minority leader said in a statement last month.

Sen. Brian Schatz (D-Hawaii)

Sen. Charles Schumer (D-N.Y.)

Sen. Jeanne Shaheen (D-N.H.)

Sen. Debbie Stabenow (D-Mich.)

Sen. Jon Tester (D-Mont.)

Sen. Tom Udall (D-N.M.)

Sen. Mark Warner (D-Va.)

Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.)

Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse (D-R.I.)

Sen. Ron Wyden (D-Ore.)



Yes (2)

Sen. Angus King (I-Maine) — “He supports Loretta Lynch’s confirmation,” said Kathleen Connery-Dawe, King’s press secretary.

Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) — Sanders signed the Democrats’ letter calling Lynch qualified and pushing for a swift floor vote. 

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