The Senate Judiciary Committee has approved Loretta Lynch's nomination to be attorney general, sending it to the full Senate. 

The vote was 12 to 8, with three Republicans joining all committee Democrats in voting in favor of Lynch. 

She is also expected to win approval by the full Senate, though the timing is uncertain. 

The 55 -year-old Lynch now serves as U.S. attorney for the Eastern District of New York. She would replace Eric Holder and become the first black woman to hold the nation's top law enforcement job. 

Several Republicans said that Lynch's support for the legality of the president's executive actions on immigration disqualified her. But GOP Sen. Orrin Hatch of Utah, who voted in her favor, said those critics were ignoring Lynch's long record of distinction.