The U.S. Senate could vote this week on the nomination of Loretta Lynch to be the next attorney general, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell said on Tuesday, ending a month-long partisan impasse on an unrelated human trafficking bill that threatened to stall her confirmation indefinitely.
The vote on Lynch, an accomplished career prosecutor nominated by President Barack Obama in November, could come now that there is a deal between Republicans and Democrats on the legislation aimed at cracking down on domestic human trafficking, said McConnell.
"As soon as we finish the trafficking bill ... we'll move to the president's nominee for attorney general, hopefully in the next day or so," said McConnell, who heads the Republican-led chamber.
Lynch, 55, would be the first black woman to become the country's top law enforcement official. She is expected to be confirmed in the Senate by a narrow margin.
Democrats had held up passage of the bipartisan trafficking bill because of anti-abortion language Republicans inserted into the measure.
McConnell retaliated by not allowing a Senate vote on Lynch, who would replace Attorney General Eric Holder, until the trafficking bill passed the Senate.
The compromise on the bill would apply abortion restrictions only to funds appropriated by Congress for healthcare and medical services for victims and would not apply to funds used for victims' aid not related to healthcare, such as legal aid and law enforcement, according to a Senate Republican aide who spoke on condition of anonymity.
Lynch has faced a protracted process since her nomination. Her wait for approval has been longer than the last seven attorney generals combined.
Despite the delay, she is viewed as less controversial than Holder, who frequently clashed with Republicans. She has said she aims to smooth the Department of Justice's ties with Congress.
That may prove tricky. Many Senate Republicans have already said they will vote against her to protest her support for an executive order by the Obama administration that would shield an estimated 4.7 million illegal immigrants from deportation.
Lynch has twice served as U.S. attorney in Brooklyn, most recently since 2010.