US Senate panel endorses Obama's attorney general pick

The US Senate Judiciary Committee voted 12-8 today to advance Loretta Lynch's nomination to be President Barack Obama's new attorney general.

Washington: The US Senate Judiciary Committee voted 12-8 today to advance Loretta Lynch's nomination to be President Barack Obama's new attorney general.

All Democrats on the panel backed Lynch, a veteran prosecutor who would be the first African-American woman ever to hold the post. She also earned support from three Senate Republicans.

Her nomination now heads to the full Senate for confirmation.

Lynch, 55, would succeed Attorney General Eric Holder, who remains a polarizing figure for Republicans who accuse him of being a rubber stamp for Obama policies.

Her nomination comes at a time of deep Republican animosity towards Obama's immigration reform plan, which he introduced by executive order last November.

This month a federal judge in Texas issued an injunction against Obama's plan, and yesterday Lynch assured she would abide by the ruling.

"If I am confirmed as attorney general, I commit to following the injunction as it is worded unless and until the injunction is stayed, lifted or altered" by higher courts, Lynch said in a letter to senators.

That appeared to reassure Republican Senators Lindsey Graham and Jeff Flake, who backed her nomination.

"It's time to turn the page on Eric Holder's tenure as attorney general," Graham said. "We need a fresh start in the position."

Lynch earned high praise for cracking down on corruption and convicting terrorists from her position as chief US attorney for the Eastern District of New York.

Judiciary panel chairman Senator Chuck Grassley, who during Lynch's confirmation hearing pressed her on whether she thought Obama's immigration executive actions were legal, opposed the nomination.

"I remain unconvinced she will lead the department in a different direction," he said. 

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