U.S. Senate leader says he will put Obama attorney general on hold

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McConnell holds a news conference after the weekly party caucus policy luncheons at the U.S. Capitol in Washington

U.S. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) holds a news conference after the weekly party caucus policy luncheons at the U.S. Capitol in Washington, March 10, 2015. REUTERS/Jonathan Ernst

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - The U.S. Senate majority leader said on Sunday he would not schedule a vote to confirm President Barack Obama's nominee for attorney general, Loretta Lynch, until Democrats stop blocking an unrelated human trafficking bill.

Republican Senator Mitch McConnell told CNN's "State of the Union" program he had planned to take up Lynch's nomination this week but may put it off if an anti-human trafficking measure does not pass first.

Democrats last week objected to anti-abortion provisions in that bill, which is otherwise widely supported. But McConnell said the language had been part of the legislation all along, including when it was approved unanimously by the Judiciary Committee.

"This will have an impact of the timing of considering a new attorney general," McConnell said. "I had hoped to turn to her next week but if we can't finish the trafficking bill she will be put off again."

The Senate Judiciary Committee on Feb. 26 voted in favor of Lynch to replace Attorney General Eric Holder, clearing the way for her expected confirmation in the full Senate.

But even the committee vote had fallen victim to partisan bickering. Senate Republicans delayed a scheduled vote on her nomination last month to scrutinize Lynch's record, in particular her support of the Obama administration's executive actions on immigration.

"I think the attorney general nominee is suffering from the president's actions, there's no question about it," McConnell said. McConnell said Obama's immigration orders, which provided a pathway to legal status for millions of undocumented Americans, enraged many senators.

At her Jan. 28 confirmation hearing, Lynch sought to smooth interactions with Republicans, who have repeatedly clashed with Holder.

Since the hearing, a Texas district court has thrown Obama's executive order on immigration into legal limbo.

(Reporting by Doina Chiacu; Editing by Alison Williams)