Loretta Lynch won confirmation as the nation’s first black woman attorney general Thursday from a Senate that forced her to wait more than five months for the title and remained divided to the end.
The 56-43 vote installs Lynch, now U.S. attorney for the Eastern District of New York, at the Justice Department to replace Eric Holder. Holder has served in the job throughout the Obama administration, becoming a lightning rod for conservatives who perceived him as overly political and liberal, and even getting held in contempt of Congress.
Lynch, 55, is seen as a nononsense prosecutor, and has wide law enforcement support. The issue that tore into her support with Republicans was immigration,
and her refusal to denounce President Barack Obama’s executive actions limiting deportations for millions of people living illegally in this country.
Democrats angrily criticized Republicans for using the issue against her, saying an executive branch nominee could not be expected to disagree strongly with the
president who appointed her, but Republicans were unapologetic.