Tuesday, April 21, 2015

We could get a new attorney general as the Senate reaches a "bipartisan deal" to get back in business -- oh joy


If all goes well, U.S. Attorney for the Eastern District of New York Loretta Lynch could get an up-or-down confirmation vote as U.S. attorney general, well, maybe Thursday, or else early next week. What's the rush?

"A deal to move forward with the trafficking bill and Lynch is the key to unlocking a productive six-week work session for the Senate."

by Ken

I plucked the above line out of Mike DeBonis's washingtonpost.com report, headlined "Senate reaches deal to vote on confirmation of Loretta Lynch," because it made me giggle. "A productive six-week work session for the Senate"? Our U.S. of A. Senate? When was the last time you saw "productive" and "Senate" in the same sentence, or even thought of them in the same sequence of thoughts?

Before breaking out the champagne, take a moment to contemplate what constitutes a "productive" U.S. Senate:
Waiting for floor consideration are major policy measures, including a bipartisan bill setting out a congressional review of a potential nuclear deal with Iran, a bill to strengthen national cybersecurity efforts and, next month, legislation granting President Obama "fast track" trade authority.
Might we not be better off if, once we have a new AG confirmed, the Senate goes back into, well, whatever the heck you would call this state it's been in? Like maybe "stinking right-wing garbage-brainedness"?

So, you're probably wondering, what's the deal with this "deal" that promises to allow, finally, an up-or-down vote on the nomination of Loretta Lynch to succeed AG Eric Holder? As you recall, the official hold-up has been the deadly concern of Senate Majority Leader "Miss Mitch" McConnell about a Republican bill on human trafficking.
"I'm glad we can now say there is a bipartisan proposal that will allow us to complete action on this important legislation," Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) said Tuesday morning about a bill combating human trafficking that has become entangled in partisan bickering. "As soon as we finish the trafficking bill ... we'll move to the president's nominee for attorney general hopefully in the next day or so."


I mention this because I'm not sure it's at all obvious what Miss Mitch's position might be. This sounds like the sort of thing that under other circumstances it might be lobbying hard for -- those "other circumstances" having to do with who's getting rich off of it. I guess we can conclude that they're not Miss Mitch's kind of people, which is to say the kind of people who keep him in office. The "kind of people" part is important, because we know from painful experience that that there's a severely limited range of humans Miss Mitch gives a damn about. So we can pretty well guess that there's stuff in the bill that makes it safe for a right-wing garbage-brainer to dig its heels in over.
Democrats have filibustered the anti-trafficking due to abortion restrictions embedded within it, and Republicans have vowed not to move forward with Lynch's confirmation until the trafficking bill is dealt with. The deadlock appears to have been broken after language was inserted specifying that a fund established by the legislation would not be used for healthcare or medical services -- and thus not for abortions.
We can trust Republicans to know what's important. And this doesn't include human trafficking or confirming a new attorney general.
The deal came together after weeks of tough talk from both sides and mounting pressure from outside groups urging Republican leaders to move forward with an up-or-down vote on Lynch.

Minority Leader Harry M. Reid (D-Nev.) came to the floor Monday afternoon to accuse Republicans of "pushing around Loretta Lynch for sport" and trying to "dupe American women." But behind the scenes, staff continued efforts to hash out a deal.
So what happens now? Well, AG Holder, who is hanging on until he has a successor in place, can at least think about getting his bags packed, but maybe not yet making travel arrangements.
The Senate could start taking up amendments to the trafficking bill later Tuesday, setting up a vote for final passage late Tuesday or Wednesday. Unless all senators agree to move forward with Lynch's confirmation, which is unlikely given the rancor surrounding her nomination, a procedural vote would have to take place -- pushing her confirmation until Thursday or perhaps early next week.
And then the Senate can get on to that other productive business: screwing up a nuclear deal with Iran, increasing government control of our secrets, and Fast Track-ing the horrors of the Trans-Pacific Partnership agreement (and the enabling Fast Track authorization) that our colleague GP has been cataloguing (see most recently yesterday's "What's Wrong with Wyden-Hatch-Ryan's Fast Track Bill: The Specifics").

'Cause our U.S. Senate is (almost) back in business! Oh joy.

I'm sure all of this will be remembered the next time we have a Republican president making presidential appointments, and sending to the Hill hordes of life forms that should prudently be confined to good strong cages. Yes, I'm sure it will all be remembered. Ha ha.

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At 11:15 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I think deadlock is pretty much always the best we commoners can hope for from the Congress. The difference between do-nothing Lynch, do-nothing Holder and no AG at all is not that clear to me. As to the rest, I am fairly certain that if we gave it a thorough evaluation, even without Fast Track, it would be a better deal for the hoi polloi if nothing passed.


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