WASHINGTON – U.S. Sen. David Vitter, R-La., aggressively questioned attorney general nominee Loretta Lynch about her defense of the Obama Administration’s controversial immigration policy in her confirmation hearing Wednesday.
“I have a huge concern regarding what I think is the president’s illegal, unconstitutional executive amnesty,” Vitter said to Lynch in the Senate Judiciary Committee hearing, “and I have a huge concern that you think it is within the law.”
Democratic President Barack Obama announced in November that he would issue an executive order, without congressional approval, suspending immigration enforcement action against millions of undocumented immigrants — primarily parents and other relatives of U.S. residents brought to the country illegally as children. Vitter and other Republicans have strongly criticized the order for what they call amnesty as imperial overreach.
Lynch, the U.S. attorney for Brooklyn, Queens and Staten Island in New York City and also for neighboring Long Island, said the legal opinions adduced by the administration in support of the executive order were “reasonable.”
Obama has nominated Lynch to replace the departing Eric Holder. A vote for her in the committee will send her nomination to the full Senate, and its approval is required for her confirmation. Republicans hold a majority on both the committee and in the Senate.
Vitter has said he will vote against confirmation.
Vitter also questioned Lynch about the application of mandatory minimum sentences in drug cases, arguing that the way Lynch and other federal prosecutors handle the cases “is taking all meaning out of the word ‘mandatory’–replacing your and your colleagues’ judgment for the judgment of the people who wrote the law.”