WASHINGTON (AP) -- U.S. President Barack Obama's choice to replace Eric Holder as America's top law enforcement official is facing Senate questioners as she seeks to become the first black woman in the job.
Loretta Lynch, the U.S. attorney for the Eastern District of New York, was to appear Wednesday before the Senate Judiciary Committee as it opens two days of hearings on her nomination.
She is widely expected to win confirmation, but first she will face tough questions from Republicans who now control the Senate. The hearing gives them an opportunity to press their opposition to Obama administration policies while showcasing their own governing roles as the 2016 presidential election cycle gets underway.
Holder was a lightning rod for conservative criticism and clashed continuously with Republicans, becoming the first sitting attorney general to be held in contempt of Congress. Republicans want to hear Lynch pledge that she'll do things differently.
Wednesday's hearing comes amid a nationwide spotlight on police tactics in the wake of high-profile deaths of black men at the hands of white police officers, as well as the slaying last month of two officers in New York City. It's an issue Lynch, 55, is deeply familiar with.
Lynch helped prosecute the New York City police officers who severely beat and sexually assaulted Haitian immigrant Abner Louima in 1997. Her office in New York is leading a civil rights investigation into the police chokehold death of Eric Garner in Staten Island last summer.
Holder announced his resignation last fall after leading the Justice Department for six years.