Harry Reid: Human Trafficking Bill Doomed Unless GOP Removes Anti-Abortion …
Anti-abortion provision threatens to derail Cornyn bill to curb human trafficking.
A bill to combat human trafficking was supposed to be a major bipartisan achievement — instead it’s devolved into a bitter fight over abortion, with Democrats objecting to language that would prevent spending federal funds for the procedure and Republicans saying it’s the same provision Democrats have accepted dozens of times before.WASHINGTON — Senate Democrats threatened Wednesday to torpedo bipartisan legislation combating human sex trafficking in a dispute over a Republican-backed abortion provision they said they had failed to notice for nearly two months.The bill, which would ban mandatory union dues as a condition of employment, was able to pass through the Republican controlled House but was quickly stopped at the Democrat controlled Senate.Why We Can’t Have Nice Things: The Republican-majority Congress has been in session for three months and change, and already the record’s not looking so good for the party in charge, what with the stumbling, bumbling and shutdown-threatening.
Senate Minority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) warned Wednesday that Democrats would work to kill a bipartisan bill aimed at helping victims of human trafficking, unless Republicans agree to take out language dealing with abortion that Democrats oppose. “Unless that language is taken out of the bill there will be no bill,” Reid said on the Senate floor. “We cannot have this legislation hijacked by an abortion issue.” Reid’s comments set up another showdown between the Democratic minority and the Republican majority, just weeks after Reid won a big victory against the GOP on legislation to fund the Department of Homeland Security. For those wondering why, another example dropped this week when a bipartisan, no-brainer bill designed to prevent human trafficking – principally, the kidnapping or coercing of young women and girls usually for the underground sex trade – got bogged down in the Senate when Democrats noticed the GOP had slipped in an anti-abortion language when no one was looking. In that fight, Reid and Senate Democrats refused to allow the Senate to consider a House bill to fund DHS, because that bill also defunded President Barack Obama’s executive action on immigration. Senate Republicans say there are few options left unless they can get some Democrats on their side. “It will be very difficult unless a couple of Democrats change their vote and let the bill come to Senate floor,” state Sen. What should have been a win-win, where the GOP gets credit for passing actual legislation and Dems get traction on a gender issue, doesn’t happen because of the siren song of party ideology.
John Cornyn, R-Texas, said Democrats had, in fact, known of the abortion-related provision that Republicans backed, citing discussion among aides of both parties. Hyde-ing in Plain Sight: A key provision of the anti-human trafficking bill allows police and medical workers to use money collected through fines levied against convicted smugglers to help their victims. This time around, the fight centers on a human trafficking bill that would also prevent a program for victims of trafficking from being used to fund abortions.
They accused Democrats of being beholden to pro-choice groups who only recently registered their complaints, forcing the about-face. “It’s pathetic,” Sen. At this point, it is unclear what options Republican leaders are currently considering, and if any of them involve persuading their Democrat colleagues. “There may be efforts to do something with the bill, but I have not heard, nor have I talked to the sponsor to see what, if any, options are being explored,” state Sen.
But the anti-abortion Hyde amendment – an all-purpose Republican template that generally blocks the use of government funds for abortion – essentially could deny smuggling victims access to abortion, even if they got pregnant during the abduction. Bill Burt noted to TheDCNF. “It’s extremely disappointing that the Democrat-controlled Senate would choose obstruction over a common-sense compromise that would raise the minimum wage and give our workers the freedom to choose whether they financially contribute to a union,” state Rep. Debate on the bill was derailed Tuesday after Senate Democrats discovered this week that it includes a provision that says the victims’ fund can’t be used for abortions except in certain cases. Dennis Roch, the bill’s sponsor, said in a statement to the Albuquerque Journal. “We know it’s not over,” Charles Goodmacher, the director of government relations for the National Education Association-New Mexico, told the Albuquerque Journal. “There are opportunities the proponents of the legislation may seize upon.” Content created by The Daily Caller News Foundation is available without charge to any eligible news publisher that can provide a large audience. Buoyed by 10 Democratic cosponsors, the bill breezed through committee and offered a dose of comity for a chamber steeped in partisan fights over the administration’s approach to Iran, immigration and health care reform.
Patty Murray, a Washington Democrat, sees something a bit more nefarious: the GOP’s use of Hyde-and-seek to open a new front in the fight against abortion, inserting the amendment in bills that have nothing to do with appropriations or spending. “I know there are a whole lot of us who are going to fight hard against any attempt to expand the Hyde Amendment and permanently impact women’s health,” she says. Eleanor Gaetan, legislative adviser at the Coalition Against Trafficking in Women, one of more than 200 groups that support the bill, noted that the fund will provide money for existing federally supported anti-trafficking programs. The standoff took root Tuesday, when pro-choice groups and their Democratic allies objected to what they called a “sneak attack” on abortion rights in the bill. “Trying to slip a women’s health restriction into a women’s safety bill is like slipping a tractor ban into a farm bill,” Sen.
The events presented a difficult challenge for Democrats, forcing them to decide if their support for abortion rights justified blocking passage of a sex trafficking measure designed to help children and women. Patty Murray, Washington Democrat, said. “It doesn’t make sense.” Democrats said they’d been assured the bill wouldn’t deal with abortion, but the office of Sen. Cotton: The fallout over a Republican-sponsored open letter to Iran, warning them not to deal with the White House in nuclear disarmament talks, continues to rain down on the 47 GOP senators who signed it.
John Cornyn, the Texas Republican who sponsored the bill, disputed those assertions and said Senate Democrats either didn’t read the bill or their staffers didn’t flag the Hyde language for them. Dick Durbin of Illinois and Chuck Schumer of New York said the abortion provision wasn’t included in a list of changes from last year’s version of the trafficking bill. Democrats say the Hyde restrictions have traditionally applied to taxpayer funds, but in the new bill they also apply to penalties collected from traffickers, which the Democrats say is a different kind of money. That includes CNN’s Sally Kohn, who expressed what more than a few editorials suggested: that Republicans had turned the lingering whiff of blatant disrespect surrounding their dealings with President Barack Obama into an ugly new cologne, complete with notes of constitutional ignorance and more than a few subtle hints of racism. But Secretary of State John Kerry, a former three-term senator, dished up a nastygram or two of his own testifying before the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, saying he read the letter with “utter disbelief,” then ticked off the ways in which Cotton and his colleagues were, factually, wrong: “[Their letter] erroneously asserts that this is a legally binding plan.
The Associated Press has reported that Democrats said privately that they don’t have enough votes to strip out the provision and they would try to prevent a vote on the entire measure instead.
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