One day after Democratic senator Dick Durbin accused GOP leadership of seating attorney general nominee Loretta Lynch “in the back of the bus” by prioritizing other legislation ahead of her confirmation, his colleague John McCain fired back, calling the racial insinuations “inflammatory” and unfit for the Senate.
Lynch, who is African-American, has seen her Senate confirmation delayed due to wrangling between Democrats and Republicans over anti-abortion language in a sex-trafficking bill.
On the Senate floor Thursday, McCain excoriated the Democratic minority whip for hinting that the hold-up in Lynch’s confirmation is due to her race. “I was surprised and disappointed by the comments that he made yesterday on the floor of the Senate, contents that were totally inappropriate to be made on the floor of the Senate.”
“What is beneath the decorum and dignity of the United States Senate, I would say to the senator from Illinois,” McCain said angrily, ”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!” McCain said, reminding Durbin that he once repeatedly voted against confirming an African-American woman to be a judge on a federal appeals court. She waited 684 days to be confirmed.
“I would never suggest, even with veiled rhetoric, that [the judge’s] race was the reason for the senator for Illinois’s opposition to her nomination,” he said. “And he should extent the same courtesy to me and my colleagues.”