By Russell Berman
Loretta Lynch won confirmation as attorney general on Thursday afternoon, as the Republican-controlled Senate gave its approval after a wait of 166 days. The final vote was 56-43, with 10 Republicans joining all Democrats in supporting her.
Lynch, 55, had been serving as the U.S. attorney in Brooklyn when Obama chose her in November to become the first African American woman to lead the Justice Department. Holder had announced his intention to resign last September after serving as attorney general for the entirety of Obama’s presidency.
While most Republicans did not dispute Lynch’s qualifications, they took issue with her support, during her confirmation hearing, for Obama’s unilateral actions on immigration. But the delay in her confirmation—the third-longest for any attorney general nominee in history—actually had little to do with her: Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell made her wait until the Senate resolved an unrelated abortion dispute in an anti-trafficking bill, which passed on Wednesday. McConnell ended up voting in favor of her nomination on Thursday. Lynch is now the second Obama Cabinet nominee to be confirmed by the new Republican majority in the Senate, which overwhelmingly approved Ashton Carter to be defense secretary in February.