The Democrats are really working hard to remain genuinely awful, and a bill that fights human trafficking is their latest attempt to do so.
Senate Democrats are threatening to pull their support from a bipartisan anti-trafficking bill set for Senate action this week. They are infuriated over an abortion-related provision that Democrats say was slipped in without their knowledge.
The legislation passed the Senate Judiciary Committee in late February without opposition, but Democrats are now balking over language in it that would prohibit money in a restitution fund from being spent on abortions. Aides said Democrats shepherded the bill through committee and to the floor, unaware that abortion language was in the bill written by Senate Majority Whip [mc_name name=’Sen. John Cornyn (R-TX)’ chamber=’senate’ mcid=’C001056′ ] (R-Texas).
“You can blame it on staff, blame it on whoever you want to blame,” Senate Minority Leader [mc_name name=’Sen. Harry Reid (D-NV)’ chamber=’senate’ mcid=’R000146′ ] (D-Nev.) said Tuesday. “But we didn’t know it was in the bill, and … the bill will not come off this floor as long as that language is in the bill.”
This is difficult to imagine. The bill has been publicly available since January 13, and the controversial language wasn’t slipped into some obscure part of the bill – it’s on page four. This isn’t some Obamacare monstrosity, either. It is a 68-page bill that contains within it language that bans the use of federal money (in this case, money that is set up to help victims of trafficking) from getting an abortion or Plan B contraception. It is also basically in any spending bill.
Republicans said the so-called Hyde Amendment language — referring to riders often inserted in spending legislation barring the use of federal funds for abortion except in cases of rape, incest and the life of the mother — was in the bill Democrats supported. And Cornyn defended including the abortion language in the bill, noting that the Hyde Amendment has long been the law of the land.
“All this does is maintain the status quo by making sure that this crime victims compensation fund, the funds available from that fund, are constrained by the same constraint that exists under all other federal law,” Cornyn said.
This is the hill the Democrats want to fight on this week? Well, McConnell, in a move that he will hopefully not back away from, has offered this challenge to Democrats:
After weeks of Democrats questioning his unwillingness to schedule the nomination of Loretta Lynch to be attorney general, the Senate majority leader announced at a press conference Tuesday that the Senate will vote to confirm her next week. There’s just one catch: Members will have to get past legislation that includes a controversial abortion rider first.
To get their vote on Lynch, Democrats will have to get off of the trafficking bill. And, so far, Republicans aren’t showing any willingness to remove the controversial abortion language.
Credit to Senate Republicans for doing this, because this fight – against human trafficking – is an important one, and, strategically, forcing the Democrats to allow a vote on a bill they already unanimously supported in committee to get their nomination is a smart move. Let the Democrats overplay their hand on this. Lord knows the media accuses us of doing it all the time.