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PBS NewsHour

News Wrap: Obama urges Senate to vote on Lynch confirmation

U.S. President Obama and Italian Prime Minister Renzi hold joint news conference at the White House in
         Washington

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JUDY WOODRUFF: President Obama hosted Italy’s Prime Minister Matteo Renzi at the White House today.

And, at a joint news conference, he addressed a list of sticky issues, starting with the way GOP leaders on Capitol Hill are handling one of his main Cabinet appointments.

PRESIDENT BARACK OBAMA: This is embarrassing, a process like this.

JUDY WOODRUFF: The president had strong words for Senate Republicans, who, since February, have delayed the confirmation of Loretta Lynch to be attorney general.

PRESIDENT BARACK OBAMA: There are times where the dysfunction in the Senate just goes too far. This is an example of it. It’s gone too far. Enough. Call Loretta Lynch for a vote. Get her confirmed. Put her in place. Let her do her job.

JUDY WOODRUFF: Senate Republican leaders have said they hope to get to it next week, but only if another controversial issue is resolved first.

Today, the president was mainly asked about a collection of international issues. His defended his plan to sign a bill that would give Congress a say on a final nuclear deal with Iran, calling it a reasonable compromise. But Mr. Obama stressed the importance of appearing credible in the remaining negotiations.

PRESIDENT BARACK OBAMA: If it is perceived that we walked away from a fair deal that gives us assurances Iran doesn’t get a nuclear weapon, then those international negotiations will fray. And it won’t just be Russia or China. It will be some of our close allies who will start questioning our capacity or the wisdom of maintaining these. We don’t want to put ourselves in that position.

JUDY WOODRUFF: On trade, the president pushed a new agreement with Asia, the Trans-Pacific Partnership, but he acknowledged the deal faces vigorous opposition at home.

PRESIDENT BARACK OBAMA: There’s going to be a set of Democratic senators and House members who traditionally have just, on principle, opposed trade, because the unions, on principle, regardless of what the provisions are, are opposed to trade.

And then there are others who, like me, believe that we cannot stop a global economy at our shores. We’ve got to be in there and compete.

JUDY WOODRUFF: Meantime, as Europe’s economy struggles to rebound, the two leaders urged the Greek government to make economic reforms, even as they continue to seek financial aid.

PRESIDENT BARACK OBAMA: My attitude has been, yes, you need structural reforms of the sort that Matteo is initiating. The sustainability of structural reforms depends on people feeling some sense of hope and some sense of progress. And if all it is is just getting squeezed, but there’s no growth, then over time the political consensus breaks down, and not only do you not get structural reforms, but you also end up reverting to some of the old patterns that didn’t work.

JUDY WOODRUFF: As his country faces rising unemployment and declining GDP, Italian Prime Minister Renzi praised the U.S. as a model for the wider European economy.

Just down the road from the White House, financial leaders from the world’s major economies gathered to discuss rising challenges. The leaders posed for a group photo after two days of meetings. And the Group of 20 issued a joint communique, saying they see modest improvements in the global economy. But there was no official discussion of Greece and its financial woes.

North African migrants seeking refuge in Europe hit more trouble as they came across the Mediterranean Sea, a boat docked in Italy today carrying survivors who’d been badly burned after a gas explosion on their vessel.

John Ray of Independent Television News has this report from Sicily.

JOHN RAY: From the Mediterranean, this ocean of manmade misfortune, a ship of horrors. Rescue teams who have saved so many poor souls this week say they have seen nothing yet to match this suffering, migrants, mostly women, disfigured by burns from an accident on shore, then cast out to sea in a sinking dinghy.

The smugglers they paid handsomely for the journey abandoned the injured and the dying to their fate.

BARBARA MOLINARIO, United Nations Refugee Agency: The traffickers wouldn’t allow them to leave and reach the hospital. So they didn’t get treatment for a few days. And then they were put on a boat, in fact, on a runner dinghy. And when rescuers arrived, they had spent two days at sea, but they were drifting away, because the rubber dinghy was half-deflated already.

JOHN RAY: A baby was among the victims caught by an exploding gas cylinder as the women gathered around a cooking stove.

This afternoon, we watched as the injured were brought to hospital in Sicily. Wounds so long attended leave lives in the balance. Here, the survivors will belatedly get the specialist medical help they need, but despite the best efforts of surgeons, doctors here say that, though they may live, many will bear the scars of their journey forever. The smugglers responsible have not been caught.

JUDY WOODRUFF: The United Nations estimates some 13,000 migrants have been rescued from the Mediterranean Sea in the past week alone.

A state ceremony was held in Germany today to honor the victims of last month’s Germanwings plane crash. Hundreds of family members and dignitaries attended the memorial service at the Cologne Cathedral. The steps leading up to the altar were lined with 150 candles, one for each person on board. Investigators found the co-pilot deliberately slammed the airliner into the French Alps while en route from Barcelona to Dusseldorf.

A court in Beijing sentenced Chinese journalist Gao Yu to seven years in prison today on charges she leaked state secrets. Gao, a 71-year-old veteran reporter, denied the charges brought against her. The document in question detailed the Communist Party leadership’s plans to target civil society and press freedom as a threat to the party’s power. Gao plans to appeal the sentencing. She has already served time in prison on state secrets charges more than two decades ago.

The parents of the youngest victim in the Boston Marathon bombing asked federal prosecutors to give up seeking the death penalty for the bomber. Bill and Denise Richard urged the Justice Department to work toward a deal that would give Dzhokhar Tsarnaev a life sentence without the opportunity of parole. Tsarnaev was convicted last week in the 2013 attack that killed three people, including 8-year-old Martin Richard.

The large outbreak of measles that was traced to Disneyland in California has come to an official end. Officials at California’s Department of Public Health said no new infections have been reported in the past 42 days. That’s equal to two incubation periods. The outbreak sickened 147 people in the U.S. and it renewed a national debate over vaccinations.

The International Space Station received a much-needed delivery of supplies today. Its crew captured the SpaceX supply ship using a huge robotic arm. The capsule contained more than 4,000 pounds of cargo, including groceries, equipment, science experiments, and an espresso maker for an Italian astronaut. It will be sent back to Earth next month full of experiment results and discards.

On Wall Street today, stocks reacted to new trading regulations in China and renewed worries over Greece and its finances. The Dow Jones industrial average lost 280 points to close at 17826. The Nasdaq fell 76 points, and the S&P 500 dropped 24. For the week, the Dow and Nasdaq both fell 1.3 percent. The S&P fell 1 percent.

The post News Wrap: Obama urges Senate to vote on Lynch confirmation appeared first on PBS NewsHour.

Shields and Brooks on Pacific trade deal politics, Clinton and Rubio on the trail

shieldsbrooks

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JUDY WOODRUFF: And to the analysis of Shields and Brooks. That’s syndicated columnist Mark Shields and New York Times columnist David Brooks.

Welcome, gentlemen. It’s good to have you back together again after a few weeks.

MARK SHIELDS: Thank you very much, Judy.

JUDY WOODRUFF: So, Mark, let’s talk about something not very exciting, but it’s really important. It’s that Trans-Pacific Partnership that now we know the White House, the administration, a few Democrats, a lot of Republicans, have come together around, apparently.

Is this a good deal, based on what we know about it?

MARK SHIELDS: Well, supporters of trade agreements, including the president, would argue, with logic, that elevated — these trade agreements have raised the standard of living across the globe. They have lifted people out of poverty and led to greater economic activity.

They have been a disaster for American workers, a total disaster, beginning with NAFTA. They have put all the power in the hands of the employer. The employer threatens, if you don’t go along, if you don’t surrender your bargaining rights, if you don’t surrender your health and pension benefits, if you don’t surrender collective union membership, we will move your job overseas.

And as consequence of NAFTA some 22 years ago, documented by our own government, 755,000 jobs lost immediately…

JUDY WOODRUFF: North American trade agreement.

MARK SHIELDS: … five million fewer American — five million fewer American manufacturing jobs than there were.

And I just think the pattern, Judy, has been established in our society. We see it where all — the trade agreements, the investor class capital is protected, whether it’s copyrights or whatever, intellectual property, their investments. And they just pay lip service to workers’ rights. And I just — I think it’s one more example.

JUDY WOODRUFF: And the president defended it again today, David, so that means he is siding the investor class?

DAVID BROOKS: Yes, I don’t think so.

I agree with Mark’s first point. The greatest reduction in human poverty — in human history of poverty has taken place because of this era of free trade. And it’s been around the globe. As for the domestic workers, it’s complicated. It has hurt some people in some of the unions. There’s no question about it.

The unions were dominant in the 1950s, when Europe was collapsed, when we had basically global dominance, 50 percent productivity gains. And as the world has globalized, the unions have weakened. And there have been some worker rights that have been sacrificed. There’s no question about that.

It’s hurt people with fungible skills that can be replicated by those in China and India and elsewhere. On the other hand, it has created many new jobs. The vast field of research on this, on trade research, there are economists who are skeptics, who cite some of Mark’s numbers.

There are some, and I would say the majority are slightly pro-trade, are more pro-trade and think that, net-net, we have had a growth in jobs and there are certain industries devastated, but other industries created.

Finally, costs. All of us rely and buy goods that come from Asia, from Africa, from Europe. And those goods are much, much cheaper and our standard of living is much, much better because of these cheap goods that we benefit from and that people with lower incomes benefit from.

So, are there losers? We are more acutely aware of the losers than we were. And there are more losers than there were. But are there winners? There are a ton of winners.

MARK SHIELDS: Median household income in the United States was lower in 2012 than it was in 1989. I’m not saying solely because of this, but largely because of this.

Judy, if you want to see the dominance of capital that I think these trade agreements exemplify and embody, all you have to see is the 2008 crisis, economic crisis in this country. Millions of ordinary Americans saw their futures, their savings, their homes wiped out. And they got nothing in the way of relief.

Those who had caused it, who had brought the country to its knees, the big banks and the investment houses of Wall Street, were bailed out by people. They were made whole. So, you had a choice. Who are you going to help and who you going to leave to make out for their own?

We have capitalism for the rich and we have free enterprise, high risk for workers. And I just think this is what it exemplifies. That’s what the resistance is about. Will they defeat the president? Probably not, because I think Republicans will be with him. And I think the opposition has been weakened ever since NAFTA, over 22 years.

American workers have lost their clout politically.

DAVID BROOKS: Global finance — the 2008 crash wasn’t a matter of trade.

MARK SHIELDS: No.

DAVID BROOKS: It was mostly a matter of the interlocking financial network, and which wasn’t about trading goods and services, sort of thing that’s involved in this.

And so I just — I don’t think that’s why the wages have been flat. Secondly, on why the wages have been flat has not to do with trade. It has to do with technology. Trade is a small, small piece of this. If we were closed in, and you were in a steel factory in Pittsburgh, and they invented all this new technology to forge steel with a fraction of the workers, it wouldn’t matter if we had global trade or not. The technology was there and the technology was a lot cheaper. So, technological advance is the lion’s share of why these wages have been flat.

MARK SHIELDS: I’m not saying that 2008 was caused by trade. I’m saying the template of the trade agreement of 1993, of — where capital was emphasized and deferred to, and workers were really basically left at the back of the bus, became the dominant model for our economy.

And it is to this day. It is our politics. And it was in 2008 on the bailouts.

DAVID BROOKS: Well, I would just say the president’s point that you can’t stop the global economy at the water’s edge, that we’re just not going to go there anymore.

And his second point, which I thought was a good one, which is that, if we don’t have trade — and he acknowledges, as I acknowledges, that the people are hurt by this. But he said, if we don’t have a certain level of growth, then the whole political economy begins to suffer. When we have no growth, the political sector and the political discussion begins to grow embittered.

And so you need to take action to help the people who Mark is talking about who are hurt by trade. But if you don’t have the growth that trade encourages, the productivity gains that trade encourages, you don’t get that because we’re in a very bitter country.

JUDY WOODRUFF: All right, we’re going to go to another place where I know the two of you will also be in complete agreement.

(LAUGHTER)

JUDY WOODRUFF: Iran. And this is very quick. How big a concession this week, Mark, for the president to come around to saying, I will do what the Congress wants me to do, I will let them have a say over this Iran nuclear deal?

MARK SHIELDS: Important concession, but an example of the political process working, the legislative process working.

And large credit goes to Bob Corker, Republican of Tennessee, Ben Cardin, a non-telegenic, not-camera-seeking, very able former speaker of the Maryland legislature, senator from — Democrat from Maryland, and a handful of others. They made it happen. I think it’s important.

DAVID BROOKS: Yes. It’s a big win for the non-telegenic senators.

(LAUGHTER)

DAVID BROOKS: Of whom there should be more.

And I would say they both — both sides really compromised. The president’s side sort of had to compromise so there would be a vote. The Republicans compromised because, the way the game is rigged, it is very unlikely they are going to win the thing. They’re probably going to lose.

And then they both compromised on the timing of the sanctions relief and stuff like that. So, this was like actual legislation being done. And that is something we haven’t seen. And it was impressive.

JUDY WOODUFF: Well, something that actually also happened this week is Hillary Clinton, Mark, finally did announce that she is running for president.

She announced last weekend. She took off in a van from New York to Iowa. She’s been out trying to meet with small groups of Iowans. What did you make of the rollout? And do we now know why she is running for president?

MARK SHIELDS: Rollout was fine. It was unpretentious, unassuming. She went to Chipotle. She knew what to order.

No, I think the great myths that attached to Hillary Clinton’s 2008 campaign, which she will put to rest in a hurry, and to me it came down to it was a bad campaign, better candidate. She became a very good candidate. Remember this. She lost 11 contests.

JUDY WOODRUFF: In ’08.

MARK SHIELDS: In ’08. She lost 11 contests in a row. She was written off. Barack Obama was inevitable. He was triumphant.

She came back, defeated him in Texas, and then in the battleground states of Ohio and Pennsylvania, outspent vastly, she, campaigning among blue-collar Democrats, won those states. And I think — I think anybody — the biggest opponent she has right now is the political press, who cannot stand a coronation, in spite of the fact that seven of the last nine winning tickets have had either a Clinton or a Bush on them in this country.

But we don’t know much about religion or the Bible, but we do know the David-Goliath story. And she is Goliath. And the press is looking for David right now. There are a lot of people who are trying to qualify for it. But she is not going to go just absolutely triumphantly being carried to the nomination.

DAVID BROOKS: Yes.

JUDY WOODRUFF: She caught some of the magic?

DAVID BROOKS: Yes. She is not — magic would not be the one word that would describe — but I agree she is quite a good candidate.

And what was striking the last time around, to use a friend, Ron Brownstein’s categories, she was good with what he calls the beer track voters, and not so much with right wine track voters. She has more of the working-class voters.

And in places like Iowa, that’s just a natural winner there, not a lot of Chablis, I guess. But the second thing I would say is, I like the unpretentious rollout. I still think it’s necessary to have policies. It feels like, from the get-go, it’s necessary to say, I don’t only want to be president. Here is what I want to do as president.

That’s just blank, open canvas right now.

JUDY WOODRUFF: So, you think she should have made a big speech?

DAVID BROOKS: I think it would have shown that it’s not about her, it’s about these issues or these policies. I thought that would have been the way to do it. She will unveil things obviously in the future.

MARK SHIELDS: She committed — it was about the voters, I think.

That’s — campaigns are about the voters. And I thought that came through. But she hasn’t given the raison d’etre for her campaign yet.

JUDY WOODRUFF: Well, on the other side of the ledger, Senator Marco Rubio, Republican of Florida, got in on the same day, didn’t get quite as much attention as she did, Mark.

But, by the way, we should say, tonight, as we have been sitting here, former Arkansas Governor Mike Huckabee has announced that he will announce that he’s running in early May in his hometown of Hope, Arkansas.

MARK SHIELDS: OK. That’s right.

JUDY WOODRUFF: A place that we have heard of.

MARK SHIELDS: That’s right.

What do we — but let’s talk for a minute about Marco Rubio. Where does he fit in this?

MARK SHIELDS: I thought Marco Rubio’s entry was really quite impressive.

He’s charismatic. I thought maybe old wine in new bottles, but it’s a very good new bottle. And he’s somebody who is obviously good at the business, which, let’s be honest, is getting elected to office. He has been consistently underrated. He was an underdog. He drove Charlie Crist, a Republican governor, popular Republican governor, not only out of the primary, out of his party.

And I think that Marco Rubio has charisma, as well as youth, on his side and has to be paid attention to.

DAVID BROOKS: Yes, I agree. I think he’s the best communicator on the Republican side by far, by far the most underestimated of the candidates. He’s a very good speaker.

He has two elements to his campaign so far. The first is the working-class story. His dad was a bartender. His mom worked at Kmart. He does have genuine roots in normal America. And the second which he played up, which I think is less successful so far, is the generational theme.

And he’s got to play that because he’s young. He might as well take advantage of it. And so he’s 43, I guess. And he’s going to be running against older men on the Republican side and presumably Hillary Clinton. And so he’s saying, time for a changing of the guard.

That’s a tough sell. He’s got to define what his generation stands for, which I think is still undone. But I do think he’s one of the top three likely to get the nomination.

MARK SHIELDS: Who are the other two?

DAVID BROOKS: Walker and Bush.

And his challenge is, the early states do not favor him. Iowa doesn’t favor him. South Carolina doesn’t favor him. New Hampshire, he would really have to do extremely well in New Hampshire. And then he has to beat Bush in Florida several weeks later.

DAVID BROOKS: Nevada?

DAVID BROOKS: Nevada is better for him.

JUDY WOODRUFF: We have time to talk about all of this. We’re so glad to talk about it tonight.

Mark Shields, David Brooks, thank you both.

DAVID BROOKS: Thank you.

 

The post Shields and Brooks on Pacific trade deal politics, Clinton and Rubio on the trail appeared first on PBS NewsHour.

The undertold story of D.C.’s dames during the Civil War

cokie roberts book

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JUDY WOODRUFF: Finally tonight: the newest addition to the NewsHour Bookshelf.

It’s a different take on the Civil War era. ABC News and NPR political commentator Cokie Roberts’ latest book is “Capital Dames: The Civil War and the Women of Washington, 1848-1868.”

Earlier this week, Gwen sat down and talked with Cokie at Busboys and Poets here in the D.C. area.

Cokie, thank you for joining us.

COKIE ROBERTS, Author, “Capital Dames”: Thank you for having me.

GWEN IFILL: This book, “Capital Dames,” is so interesting to me, because while we have been talking about the Civil War and the heroes of the Civil War, we know all these names, but we never hear women’s names. And you have gone back and found them.

COKIE ROBERTS: Well, that is pretty much throughout our history.

One of the reasons I have been writing books about women in history is because other people haven’t been. And telling history without talking about one-half of the human race seems to be an inaccurate way of telling the story.

GWEN IFILL: Some of the women you talk about in this case, we have vaguely heard of. We kind of know who Clara Barton was. Some women, we have never — a lot of them, we have never heard of at all.

COKIE ROBERTS: Many of them.

GWEN IFILL: Who are your favorites? Who surprised you that you discovered?

COKIE ROBERTS: Well, one that just totally cracked me up was Abigail Brooks Adams, the wife of Charles Francis Adams, who was John Quincy Adams’ son.

And he was in Congress for a term, but it was the term when the South seceded. And he then went to be the Union ambassador to England and kept England from siding with the South. But she, in the tradition of her grandmother-in-law and mother-in-law, was this outspoken Yankee women.

And she would write home these letters that have never been published before about how President Buchanan is a toad, and one of her husband’s colleagues in the delegation was a pig. And she is writing these to Henry Adams, who became famous of course in his own right.

And then she has one wonderful letter where she says, if any young woman wants to have a nice, quiet life, I advise her not to marry an Adams.

(LAUGHTER)

GWEN IFILL: Which is true.

But a lot of women, their surnames are the wives of famous women, except one interesting one, who is the niece of a famous man. President Buchanan’s niece was the first lady.

COKIE ROBERTS: She was.

And she was actually the first person referred to as first lady in the press, Harriet Lane. And she had lived with him since she was a little girl. Her parents had died. And she had gotten to know the ways of Washington when he had been in the Cabinet. And then she went with him to England when he was ambassador to the Court of St. James, and became a great favorite of Queen Victoria.

And she — we recently had a visit of the Prince of Wales. The Prince of Wales came when she was in the White House, and all the newspaper accounts said that when he went to Mount Vernon and they showed him the key to the Bastille, he was actually more interested in looking at Ms. Lane.

(LAUGHTER)

GWEN IFILL: Varina Davis.

COKIE ROBERTS: I think she is one of the most interesting people in the book.

GWEN IFILL: Tell us about her.

COKIE ROBERTS: I really like her a lot.

She is Jefferson Davis’ wife. And she was always wildly skeptical of the Confederacy as a concept, knew that it could never really succeed. She also was always outspoken in interviews.

When one of the belles, as they described themselves, of Washington, Adele Cutts, who was Dolly Madison’s great niece, married Stephen Douglas, Varina Davis writes this letter home to her mother and says, it’s horrible. He stinks. He smells bad.

(LAUGHTER)

GWEN IFILL: And Stephen Douglas, of course, was of the Lincoln-Douglas debates.

COKIE ROBERTS: Right. Absolutely. He beat Lincoln for the Senate and then ran for the presidency himself against Lincoln and two others.

But she then after the war was over, and she and Jefferson Davis had a somewhat fraught relationship. And she had a fraught relationship with the South. Among other things, her grandfather was the governor of New Jersey and she was somewhat olive-complected. She wasn’t fair enough for a perfect Southern belle.

GWEN IFILL: And she ended up moving to New York after the war.

COKIE ROBERTS: So, when she moved to New York, everybody in the South had a fit, the first lady of the Confederacy going to New York.

And she wrote to her daughter and said, I’m free, brown, and 64. I can go wherever I want.

(LAUGHTER)

COKIE ROBERTS: But, then, when she got to New York, she befriended Julia Grant, the wife of Ulysses S. Grant.

And that was one of the things I found very interesting. These women affected reconciliation in a variety of ways.

GWEN IFILL: With each other, even though they were on other sides of the battle.

COKIE ROBERTS: But they understood that it was symbolic for the nation. So, she went to the dedication of the Grant Memorial and knew that would be written about in all of the newspapers.

GWEN IFILL: A lot of these women, you described them and they described themselves as belles. They were social beings.

COKIE ROBERTS: And political.

GWEN IFILL: But that’s my point. They were also political in ways that probably the naked common eye wouldn’t have noticed.

COKIE ROBERTS: They were deeply political, very involved in their husbands’ careers or fathers or brothers, went to the debates in Congress all the time, helped their husbands with speeches and letters and all of that, and had their views. And, sometimes, they weren’t exactly the same as the men’s.

GWEN IFILL: And how did you discover all of this? Because it is one thing to know it or to see their one line in the history book. It’s another thing to hear in these women’s own words or in the words of female reporters a lot of the time the way that this all unfolded.

COKIE ROBERTS: Right. Right.

Well, you go searching for letters among the men’s letters. A few of them have letters that have been published in books, thank God, because that means they are actually transcribed.

But then you beg historic societies or university libraries, who are actually quite cooperative now, to find what they can find. And with modern technology, they will scan these handwritten letters and send them to you. And then the challenge is being able to read them. And I had some help with that.

GWEN IFILL: Well, I want to talk to you some more online about another woman you profile in this book, Elizabeth Keckley, who I thought was really important and interesting.

COKIE ROBERTS: Very important.

GWEN IFILL: But she — from a different point of view.

We will talk about that online.

Cokie Roberts, thank you very much.

COKIE ROBERTS: Thank you, Gwen.

 

 

The post The undertold story of D.C.’s dames during the Civil War appeared first on PBS NewsHour.

Obama calls delay of his attorney general nominee ‘crazy’

Loretta Lynch is sworn in to testify before a Senate Judiciary Committee confirmation hearing on her nomination to be
         U.S. attorney general on Capitol Hill in Washington January 28, 2015. Lynch, nominated in November, has stirred little controversy
         in her 16 years with the U.S. Attorney's office in Brooklyn and is expected to win confirmation. REUTERS/Kevin Lamarque
         (UNITED STATES - Tags: POLITICS CRIME LAW TPX IMAGES OF THE DAY) - RTR4NBOF

If confirmed, Loretta Lynch would succeed Attorney General Eric Holder.President Barack Obama cr Photo by Reuters/Kevin Lamarque.

WASHINGTON (AP) — President Barack Obama on Friday said it was “crazy” and “embarrassing” the way the Republican-led Senate has held up confirmation of his attorney general nominee, Loretta Lynch.

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell said he was “hopeful” that the obstacle to bringing Lynch to the Senate floor would be addressed next week, clearing the way for her confirmation vote.

But an aide to Minority Leader Harry Reid said no deal was yet in hand and echoed Obama’s call for Republicans to bring her to a vote without condition.

“What are we doing here?” Obama said. “I have to say there are times when the dysfunction in the Senate just goes too far. This is an example of it. It’s gone too far. Enough. Enough.

“Call Loretta Lynch for a vote,” he said emphatically. “Get her confirmed.”

Lynch is the U.S. attorney for New York’s Eastern District and would succeed Attorney General Eric Holder if confirmed. She would become the first black woman to serve as the nation’s top law officer.

Dozens of Senate Republicans have opposed her for various reasons, chiefly her support of Obama’s immigration policies.

But her vote has been put off because McConnell has first wanted a Senate vote on a bipartisan sexual trafficking bill that has been held up over a dispute about abortion. McConnell on Wednesday said Sen. John Cornyn, R-Texas, has adjusted the language to mirror that contained in bipartisan Medicare legislation that the Senate approved Tuesday.

“This is a solution in search of a problem,” McConnell said in an interview Friday. “I have made it clear for seemingly well over a month that she’d be considered right after we consider trafficking, and I’m hopeful that that will occur next week and then we’ll move on to consider the nominee.”

Reid spokesman Adam Jentleson said Democrats do not believe Lynch’s nomination should be linked to the trafficking bill and want it to be voted on immediately.

“On trafficking, it is true that Republicans have moved much farther in our direction in the last 24 hours than they have in the past five weeks,” Jentleson said. “But there are still significant issues to overcome and no deal is in hand.”

The president spoke at a news conference alongside visiting Italian Prime Minister Matteo Renzi. Asked about Lynch’s nomination, Obama praised “some outbreaks of bipartisanship and common sense” in Congress recently on issues such as fixing a longstanding problem with Medicare payments to doctors.

“Yet what we still have is this crazy situation where a woman everybody agrees is qualified … has been now sitting there longer than the previous seven attorney general nominees combined,” Obama said. He said there was no reason for the delay other than “political gamesmanship in the Senate” on issues unrelated to Lynch.

“This is embarrassing, a process like this,” Obama said.

The post Obama calls delay of his attorney general nominee ‘crazy’ appeared first on PBS NewsHour.