Published December 20, 2015
Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell said Tuesday he plans to put Loretta Lynch's nomination for attorney general to a final vote next week.
The GOP-controlled chamber is expected to confirm Lynch in a close vote, amid criticism from Democrats that McConnell is delaying the process.
The Senate's Judiciary Committee voted two weeks ago in favor of confirming Lynch, now the U.S. Attorney for the Eastern District of New York. The committee’s three Republicans joined all committee Democrats in voting "yes."
Minutes after McConnell’s assurance, Senate Minority Leader Harry Reid said he was pleased that the nomination will proceed because it was long overdue.
“No one I've seen is more qualified and experienced … than Loretta Lynch,” Reid said.
Lynch would replace Attorney General Eric Holder, who last year announced his retirement.
President Obama nominated Lynch in November.
A letter to McConnell signed by all Senate Democrats says Lynch's nomination has been pending longer than any nominee for attorney general in the past three decades.
Some Republicans oppose her nomination because she supports Obama's actions shielding millions of immigrants from deportation.
If confirmed, Lynch would become the nation's first black female attorney general.
"Although a narrow minority of the Senate may want to use Ms. Lynch's floor vote to protest the immigration enforcement priorities announced last year by the administration, there is simply no credible reason for further delay," the Democratic senators wrote in their letter to McConnell. "Our nation faces daily threats to our national security, and we cannot afford to wait any longer to confirm our nation's top law enforcement official."
McConnell spokesman Don Stewart has said Lynch's nomination has been on the Senate calendar for only four days during which the Senate was in session.
Democrats could have pushed Lynch's nomination through the Senate in December, when they still controlled the chamber. Instead, they focused on approving the president's judicial nominees, said Sen. Patrick Leahy of Vermont, the top Democrat on the Judiciary Committee.
Fox News’ Kara Rowland and The Associated Press contributed to this report.