- The Washington Times - Thursday, March 19, 2015

Sen. John McCain on Thursday scolded Senate Democratic Whip Richard J. Durbin for accusing Republicans of making Loretta Lynch “sit on the back of the bus” by delaying a confirmation vote on her nomination for attorney general, which could make her the first black female to serve as American’s top cop.

“Such inflammatory rhetoric has no place in this body and serves no purpose other than to further divide us,” Mr. McCain, Arizona Republican, said on the Senate floor.

He pointed out that Mr. Durbin, Illinois Democrat, twice voted to filibuster the nomination of Janice Rogers Brown to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia, a court that had never had a black female judge.

“Perhaps my colleagues, and the senator from Illinois in particular, need to be reminded of their own record when it comes to the treatment of African American women whose nominations were before this body,” Mr. McCain said, citing Mr. Durbin’s filibuster voters against Ms. Brown in 2003 and 2005.

“When she was finally confirmed, after waiting 684 days, the senator from Illinois voted against the historic nomination. I would never suggest — even with veiled rhetoric — that Judge Rogers Brown’s race was the reason for the Senator from Illinois’ opposition to her nomination, and he should extend that same courtesy to me and my colleagues,” he said.

Mr. Durbin also voted against confirming Condoleezza Rice as the first black woman for Secretary of State, but Mr. McCain did not mention it in his floor speech.

Mr. Durbin on Tuesday assailed Republicans for delaying the vote on Ms. Lynch.

Ms. Lynch has been waiting for a confirmation vote to replace outgoing Attorney General Eric Holder for more than four months, though her nomination has been pending before the new Congress for two months.

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, Kentucky Republican, has said he will hold up the confirmation vote until Democrats end their filibuster of an anti-human trafficking bill, which Democrats oppose because it includes restrictions on federal funding for abortions.

“The first African-American woman nominated to be attorney general, is [being] asked to sit in the back of the bus when it comes to the Senate calendar,” he said on the Senate floor. “That is unfair. It’s unjust. It is beneath the decorum and dignity of the United States Senate. This woman deserves fairness.”

Mr. McCain said he was addressing the “very serious accusation” with some regret because he has long worked in both the House and Senate alongside Mr. Durbin.

“That is why I was so surprised and disappointed by the comments that he made yesterday on the floor of the Senate, comments that are totally inappropriate,” Mr. McCain said.

“What is beneath the decorum and dignity of the United States Senate — I would say to the Senator from Illinois — is for him to come to this floor and use that imagery and suggest that racist tactics are being employed to delay Ms. Lynch’s confirmation vote. Such inflammatory rhetoric has no place in this body and serves no purpose other than to further divide us,” he said.

Mr. McCain demanded an apology.

“I regret deeply that the Senator from Illinois chose to come here yesterday and question the integrity and motivations of me and my Republican colleagues. It was offensive and unnecessary. I think he owes this body, Ms. Lynch, and all Americans, an apology,” he said.

Mr. Durbin did not immediately respond.

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