President Barack Obama said Saturday that his nomination of Loretta Lynch for attorney general has been languishing in the Senate without a vote for more than four months, "longer than the seven previous attorneys general combined."
"No one can claim she's unqualified," the president said during his weekly address. "This is purely about politics."
Obama said Republican lawmakers had initially held up her nomination "because they were upset about the actions I took to make our broken immigration system smarter and fairer. Now they're denying her a vote until they can figure out how to pass a bill on a completely unrelated issue."
Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, a Kentucky Republican, has warned there will be no vote on Lynch, who would be the country's first female African-American attorney general, until the Senate passes legislation on human trafficking. However, Democrats object to anti-abortion language that has been added to the bill.
"They could bring her up for a yes-or-no vote at any time," Obama said. "Republicans promised the Congress would function smoothly with them in charge. Here's a small chance for them to prove it."
Obama described Lynch's qualifications for attorney general as "superb" and said she "has distinguished herself" in her 30-year career "as a tough, fair and independent attorney."
Lynch, as the U.S. attorney for the Eastern District of New York, has successfully prosecuted the terrorists who plotted to bomb the Federal Reserve Bank and the New York City subway.
The president said Lynch has been "dogged in her pursuit of public corruption" and has helped secure billions in settlements for people wronged by some of the world's biggest banks.