(Reuters) – Loretta Lynch won Senate approval as U.S. attorney general on Thursday, becoming the first black woman to occupy the post at a time when deadly altercations between white police and unarmed black men are making headlines.
The Senate confirmed Lynch by a vote of 56-43 to end a five-month partisan deadlock over her nomination by President Barack Obama. She had waited for a vote longer than the last seven attorneys general combined.
Obama said Lynch, the 55-year-old U.S. attorney for Brooklyn, New York, had credibility with both law enforcement and the communities they police.
He told supporters from his Organizing for Action political group that he would work with her to rebuild trust so that everyone felt safe and that the law was working on everyone’s behalf.
Taking over the Justice Department from Attorney General Eric Holder, Lynch also will face early tests on financial cases alleging some of the world’s largest banks helped clients evade U.S. taxes and manipulated currency markets.
She is expected to start work on Monday.
Ten Republicans voted for Lynch, including Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell. The tally in Lynch’s favor was larger than expected, perhaps reflecting political concerns. Of the Republicans who backed her, four are up for reelection next year, three of them from states with big cities that have large African-American populations.
As attorney general she will likely be confronted with civil rights cases stemming from police altercations in several U.S. cities.