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White House, Hillary Clinton criticize GOP's "unconscionable" delay of AG vote

Loretta Lynch takes her seat after a break during her confirmation hearing before the Senate Judiciary Committee January 28, 2015 in Washington, DC.

BRENDAN SMIALOWSKI/AFP/Getty Images

The White House bashed the Republican Party after Majority Leader Sen. Mitch McConnell threatened to delay Loretta Lynch's confirmation vote for attorney general, calling it a "disappointment" that the GOP would cause an "unconscionable" delay to the vote as a political maneuver.

"This is the responsibility of the United States Senate -- to vote on the president's nominees," White House Press Secretary Josh Earnest said to reporters Monday. "Instead all we've seen is a bunch of political obstruction from Republicans that again does not speak well of Republicans' efforts to run the senate in an effective fashion."

Former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, the Democrats' presumptive 2016 nominee, also weighed in with harsh criticism for the GOP.

"Congressional trifecta against women today: 1) Blocking great nominee, 1st African American woman AG, for longer than any AG in 30 years..." Clinton said on Twitter Wednesday afternoon. She continued in a separate Tweet: "... 2) Playing politics with trafficking victims... 3) Threatening women's health & rights."

McConnell said Sunday that he would postpone Lynch's confirmation for the nation's top law enforcement post until the Senate finishes its work on another bill.

"We can't pass the trafficking bill right now," the majority leader told CNN over the weekend. "And I wanted to hold a vote on the attorney general but if I can't get this bill through first, then I'm going to have to delay the confirmation vote."

The contentious Justice for Victims of Trafficking Act, which levies heavier penalties against convicted sex and labor traffickers, hit a snag in the Senate after Democrats claimed the opposing party snuck anti-abortion language into the legislation's text. The act is now in limbo, and McConnell is using the vote on Lynch as the means to move it forward.

"If they want to turn to the attorney general," McConnell said Sunday, "then it is important that we turn to this human trafficking bill, which is important for our country."

Earnest said of Lynch, "There has not been a legitimate question that's been raised about her aptitude for office." He called her a "tough, fair, independent lawyer," pointing to Lynch's reputation for jailing known mobsters, prosecuting terrorists targeting the Federal Reserve, and going after after the corruption of public officials in both parties.

"There is no question that Republicans are playing politics with the nomination of the nation's top law enforcement official," Earnest said. "And it should come to an end."

Lynch, a current U.S. District Attorney serving New York, has been waiting over 120 days since the president nominated her in November for the lead Justice Department slot. Current Attorney General Eric Holder announced his resignation from the office last September.