Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (Larry Downing/Reuters)

The Senate’s current impasse on abortion is a little complicated, but one thing should be clear: Loretta Lynch, President Obama’s nominee for attorney general, is a political hostage whom Republicans should never have taken, and they should release her immediately. It’s important to make this point, because headline writers have had a hard time conveying what’s really going on with her five-month-delayed confirmation.

Lynch confirmation still stalled by abortion fight,” Politico wrote Monday.

Lynch nomination stalled amid political standoff,” CNN echoed on Tuesday.

No, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) is putting off Lynch’s vote; the delay is not an essential result of the unrelated fracas over abortion language in a human-trafficking bill. To be sure, Democrats have dragged their heels on the trafficking bill, but McConnell chose to link the two issues, refusing to give Lynch’s nomination floor time until the Democrats deal on trafficking. This is a power play that has nothing to do with Lynch’s merits, which have nothing to do with the trafficking bill.

It’s also not the case that the Senate is frozen until it clears the trafficking bill off its schedule. The chamber approved a judicial nomination and a major “doc fix” bill this week. Sen. John Cornyn (R-Tex.) is now saying that the Senate might take up legislation concerning the Iran nuclear deal before lawmakers get around to considering Lynch.

Instead of even more delay, the Senate should confirm Lynch quickly and without controversy, as it should have done months ago. And if it doesn’t, blame Mitch McConnell.