WASHINGTON -- Sen. Charles Schumer Tuesday urged Senate Republicans not to hold U.S. attorney general nominee Loretta Lynch "hostage" in their attempts to block President Barack Obama's executive order deferring deportation for about 5 million noncitizens in the United States illegally.
Schumer (D-N.Y.) made the plea after meeting with Lynch in his office as she began making the rounds on Capitol Hill to meet with the senators on the Senate Judiciary Committee, who will hold a hearing on her nomination and vote on her confirmation next year.
Lynch, U.S. attorney for Long Island, Brooklyn, Queens and Staten Island, was nominated last month to replace Attorney General Eric Holder.
After she was nominated, Republican Sens. Ted Cruz of Texas and Mike Lee of Utah the next day said Lynch's views on whether Obama's immigration order is legal and constitutional would be key to her confirmation.
Cruz also has proposed that Republicans block all non-security nominees to protest the president's executive order.
"If Republicans have objections to the president's action on immigration, they have many other ways to try to change it, and to hold Loretta hostage to that would be unfair to the nation as well as to her," Schumer said.
"There is so much for an attorney general to do that has nothing to do with the president's action on immigration, whether it be terrorism and ISIS, or heroin addiction," he said.
Lynch met earlier in the day with Sen. Patrick Leahy (D-Vt.), the current Judiciary Committee chairman, and Sen. Charles Grassley (R-Iowa), who will replace Leahy as the committee chairman next year when Republicans become the majority in the Senate.
She also met with Sen. Dick Durbin (D-Ill.), another Judiciary Committee member.
In a statement, Grassley said it was the first time he had met Lynch and that he looks forward to learning more about her before her hearing.