Attorney general vote delayed as Republicans ask more questions

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(Reuters) -- A Senate panel delayed a vote on Thursday on President Barack Obama's pick for his next attorney general as Republicans demanded more answers to their questions from career prosecutor Loretta Lynch.

Several Republicans have voiced support for Lynch, who is now the U.S. attorney in Brooklyn, and she is expected to ultimately win confirmation, but it is unclear how long that will take.

Senate Judiciary Committee chair Chuck Grassley said he would honor several requests to hold the nomination until the next committee meeting.

At a Jan. 28 hearing, Lynch sought to make a clean break from the testy relationship her predecessor had with Congress, while supporting the legality of the administration's controversial actions to ease the threat of deportation for millions of undocumented immigrants.

Lawmakers face a Feb. 27 deadline to fund the Department of Homeland Security, and Republicans have sought to fund the agency without providing money to implement the new immigration order. But Democrats have resisted such efforts.

Senators submitted dozens of additional questions to Lynch in writing about her differences with Attorney General Eric Holder, the immigration order, and a range of granular topics related to the Justice Department, which she responded to in a 220-page document earlier this week.

Grassley said on Thursday he was unhappy with some of those responses, and wanted time to press her further.

"I know that there's a lot of pressure to answer these questions quickly but that doesn't excuse the incomplete answers," he said.

Louisiana Republican David Vitter said he had asked for Lynch's nomination to be held while he examined a 2012 agreement her office entered into with HSBC Holdings Plc. The agreement required the bank to pay more than $1 billion, but allowed it to avoid charges it failed to stop hundreds of millions of dollars in illegal drug money from flowing through the bank and the U.S. financial system.

That settlement has received renewed attention after media reports of a second investigation into the bank's Swiss unit, which allegedly helped wealthy clients evade taxes in their home countries by hiding money in Switzerland.

The committee is expected to take up Lynch's nomination again at its next business meeting later this month.

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