• Attorney General Confirmation Hearings a Proxy Fight Over Immigration
  • March 20, 2015
  • Law Firm: McDonald Hopkins LLC - Cleveland Office
  • It is unlikely that President Obama's Attorney General nominee - Loretta Lynch - won't be confirmed by the Senate. That doesn't mean, however, that her nomination won't be without fireworks. Senate Judiciary Chairman Chuck Grassley (R-IA) has already made it clear that he intends to have exhaustive hearings with a special focus on President Obama's executive action on immigration reform.

    Senate Republicans continue to grapple with a response to the executive actions on immigration taken by President Obama. When Obama's Justice Department pick gets her moment before the committee next Wednesday, members will get their first opportunity to go on record venting their frustrations and grill the administration.

    Currently, Republican senators are mired in debate over how to stop the administration from moving forward on changes to the nation's immigration policy that the party has repeatedly called "illegal" and "unconstitutional"—all while preventing a shutdown of the Department of Homeland Security at the end of February. The House sent over a bill last week that the Senate is expected to take up in the near future, but few believe it will pass the upper chamber.

    This has conservatives concerned that their leadership will cave, sending a clean funding bill back to the House and allowing Obama to move forward on immigration with nothing but a rhetorical slap on the wrist from Republicans. So far, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell has been silent on the issue.

    Grassley, whose committee will have a major influence on any immigration debate in Congress this year, said that if they cannot pass the House bill, Republicans in both chambers will need to use every weapon in their constitutional arsenal to respond to the president's immigration action.

    For Grassley, the Lynch nomination will be the first of many tests of his chairmanship. The farmer from Iowa is the first nonlawyer to head the Judiciary Committee, an honor that he feels gives him a unique perspective on the panel's issues and makes him more relatable to the average American than some of the legal scholars of the past.

    With no direction yet from Senate leadership and deep uncertainty about the House bill's prospects for passage, many members will be left with the Lynch hearing as their best opportunity to take the president to task on immigration.

    Despite member concerns over immigration, Lynch is widely expected to be confirmed by both the Judiciary Committee and the full Senate as soon as next month. Lynch has already been approved by the Senate twice for her two stints as U.S. attorney and has been subject to previous congressional scrutiny, including by Grassley, who has served on the panel for more than three decades.