CHICAGO (AP) — Republican U.S. Sen. Mark Kirk of Illinois said Thursday that he'll vote for Loretta Lynch's nomination for attorney general, removing doubts that she'll win confirmation when the Senate votes in coming weeks.
Kirk is the fifth GOP senator to announce support for Lynch, whose nomination has been delayed for months, most recently because of gridlock on an unrelated human trafficking bill that Senate GOP leaders wanted to complete first.
Kirk, who faces a tough re-election, told the City Club of Chicago that he met with Lynch last month and spoke about the need to address gang violence in Chicago.
"Because she was so good on the subject, I'm going to vote for Loretta Lynch's confirmation," he said before civic and business leaders.
If all Democrats are voting, that means Lynch would win confirmation with 51 votes and Vice President Joe Biden would not need to cast the tie-breaking vote, which seemed possible prior to Kirk's announcement.
Although her ultimate confirmation has never been in real doubt, Democrats have grown increasingly agitated about the delay, even though they controlled the Senate for part of the time and failed to bring her nomination to a vote.
Lynch, whom President Barack Obama nominated last year to replace Eric Holder, has been praised widely by members of both parties. She's the U.S. attorney for the Eastern District of New York and would be the nation's first black female attorney general.
But many Republicans have opposed her because of her support for Obama's executive actions staying deportations for millions of immigrants in the U.S. illegally.
The other Republicans supporting her are Orrin Hatch of Utah, Lindsey Graham of South Carolina, Susan Collins of Maine and Jeff Flake of Arizona.
Werner contributed from Washington.
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