Loretta Lynch nomination a cliffhanger – Seung Min Kim – POLITICO

Loretta Lynch - Attorney General Nominee

Loretta Lynch – Attorney General Nominee

Just days before her nomination as attorney general goes to the Senate floor, Loretta Lynch is stubbornly stuck right around 50 votes — suggesting a confirmation fight the Obama administration once seemed certain to win with relative ease will go down to the wire.

Barring an 11th-hour surprise, Lynch is likely to be confirmed. But with four GOP senators currently backing her along with unanimous support from Senate Democrats, Lynch would secure the bare minimum required to be installed as the nation’s top cop – as long as senators hauled in Vice President Joe Biden to break a tie.

Several Republican senators who could have been potential “yes” votes are signaling ahead of the confirmation vote that that they will instead vote against her. The overwhelming bloc of opposition from Republicans stems from President Barack Obama’s executive actions on immigration, and Lynch’s confirmation is also plagued with remnants of congressional Republicans’ toxic relations with current attorney general Eric Holder.

Sen. Richard Burr (R-N.C.) said when he met with Lynch more than two months ago, he asked the federal prosecutor to lay out how the Justice Department’s agenda would differ than that of Holder, who’s led the Justice Department since 2009.

“She told me it would not be different,” Burr recalled of his conversation with the nominee. “I voted against Eric Holder and he’s lived up to exactly what I thought he would.”

But Lynch, who would be the first black woman to lead the Justice Department, is drawing potential opposition on other issues. Republican Sen. Dean Heller said in an interview that he is “leaning no” on the confirmation vote expected next week, a view that is based on Lynch’s answers to his concerns about how to regulate gambling.The Nevada senator said Lynch’s responses to a letter he sent following up on the issue left him “not very comfortable.”

“She said she has very little knowledge of what occurred in the Wire Act,” a 1961 law that banned certain types of interstate gambling, Heller said. “And yet at the same time, she prosecuted illegal gambling, offshore gambling. You can’t be prosecuting illegal gambling and say you have very little knowledge of the Wire Act itself.”

The confirmation showdown is set for next week. Senate Majority Leader McConnell hasn’t indicated how he will vote, though two members of his leadership team – Senate Majority Whip John Cornyn of Texas and Missouri Sen. Roy Blunt, the fifth-ranking Republican – are confirmed “no” votes.

Senate Republicans who are backing her are Orrin Hatch of Utah, Jeff Flake of Arizona, Lindsey Graham of South Carolina and Susan Collins of Maine.

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