McCaskill, Blunt at odds over Lynch confirmation vote

When Missouri Sen. Claire McCaskill realized how close the vote might come on Thursday to confirm Loretta Lynch’s nomination for Attorney General, she let loose in a furious speech on the Senate floor.

The final vote was 56-43 in favor of Lynch’s appointment.

McCaskill, a Democrat, decried the refusal of her Republican colleagues _ including Roy Blunt, the Republican senator from Missouri _ to support Lynch because they say the North Carolina native agrees too closely with President Barack Obama, who nominated her.

McCaskill said she should be happy that Lynch was finally being confirmed, but she was not.

“I am sad, I am depressed because what we are going to witness in a few minutes is base politics at its ugliest,” she said, her voice rising. “It doesn’t get any uglier than this.”

McCaskill accused Republicans of setting a new precedent that it doesn’t matter if a presidential cabinet nominee is qualified.

“Because there’s a new test: You must vote against a nominee for the cabinet for the duly elected president of the United States because she agrees with the duly elected president of the United States,” McCaskill said. “Think about the consequences of the vote ... How is any president going to assemble a cabinet” if he can't nominate people who agree with his policies, she asked.

“It is beyond depressing. It is disgusting,” she said.

Lynch “has worked hard all her life. She’s a prosecutor’s prosecutor,” said McCaskill, a former prosecutor herself. "She has prosecuted more terrorists than almost anyone else on the planet .. It is not a happy day. It is a very sad day.”

Blunt, who is running for re-election in 2016, was among the Republicans who said they would vote against Lynch because her views too closely aligned with the president’s. Kansas Sens. Jerry Moran and Pat Roberts, both Republicans, also voted against Lynch.

“I think from her hearing, she agrees with too many things the president has done as relates to the law,” Blunt said.

Blunt, who is up for re-election in 2016, had previously voted against Ashton Carter, Obama’s choice for Secretary of Defense, because “he brings some of the same problems to the job,” Blunt said in a press call with Missouri reporters.

Lynch was confirmed despite Republican opposition, as was Carter.

“I wish her well and hope she rethinks some of the things she said in her hearing,” Blunt said.