Democrats Block Human Trafficking Bill; Republicans Could Block Loretta Lynch Vote

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After being passed unanimously through the Senate Judiciary Committee last month, the Senate failed to advance legislation tightening human trafficking laws Tuesday due to abortion language in the bill. As a result, Senate Republicans could end up blocking President Obama’s nominee for Attorney General, Loretta Lynch.

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The Senate voted 55 to 43 on S. 178. It had 36 Republican cosponsors and 20 Democratic cosponsors.

According to its summary, the bill aimed to expand “the definition of ‘child abuse’ under the Victims of Child Abuse Act of 1990 to include human trafficking deterrence programs that assist law enforcement and other entities in rescuing and restoring the lives of trafficking victims, while investigating and prosecuting offenses involving child human trafficking.”

The bill would have established a fund to raise money for victims. It also included the Hyde Amendment, which would prohibit the funds from being spent on abortions, a point of contention not raised when S. 178 was being voted on in committee.

“You can blame it on staff, blame it on whoever you want to blame,” Senate Minority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., said last week. “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.”

But Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., cautioned ahead of the vote that the Loretta Lynch nomination won’t come to a vote until the human trafficking bill is complete. “We have to finish the human trafficking bill,” he said on CNN’s State of the Union Sunday.

“Democrats filibustering help for terrorized women and abused women would represent a new low for the Senate,” stressed McConnell before the vote on the Senate floor Tuesday. “And the American people would not soon forget it. Nor should they.”

S. 178’s principal sponsor, Sen. John Cornyn, R-Texas,  had some choice words for Senate Democrats who, he argues, turned their back on the legislation.

“To our colleagues who are filibustering this legislation, are you prepared to turn your back on the thousands of people living every day in bondage and who are desperately clinging to the hope that someone, someone will lend them a helping hand?,” Cornyn said Monday.

“Are you prepared to abandon these children and these other victims of human trafficking who deserve a roof over their head, someone to lean on, and somehow, some way to get a fresh start in life?”

h/t: Politico

This post originally appeared on Western Journalism – Informing And Equipping Americans Who Love Freedom

McConnell Issues Ultimatum To President Obama About ‘Bad’ Iranian Nuclear Deal

Mitch McConnell

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., appeared on CNN on Sunday to discuss the imminent Iranian nuclear deal and the options congressional law makers have moving forward during President Obama’s negations.

“The President is about to make what we believe will be a very bad deal,” McConnell said. “He clearly doesn’t want Congress involved at all and we’re worried about it.”

“We don’t think he ought to make a bad deal with one of the worst regimes in the world,” he added.

His comments come on the heels of endless Democratic criticism calling the 47 senators who signed the open letter unpatriotic and traitors.

McConnell, however, stood firm, much like Sen. Tom Cotton, R-Ark., did when confronted with opposition, by pointing back to the Constitution and clarifying that any deal done without the consent of Congress will not last after Obama’s term is complete.

McConnell concluded by outlining two possible routes in the ultimatum: either a deal is done and it will come to Congress, or, if there is no deal, “ratcheting up sanctions” would be the next appropriate step.

h/t: IJReview

This post originally appeared on Western Journalism – Informing And Equipping Americans Who Love Freedom

Obama To Veto Keystone XL, Potentially Other Bills

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President Obama is slated to veto the Keystone XL bill passed by Congress Tuesday, among the first of several key potential vetoes in his final years in office.

 

02242015_Veto Tweet_TwitterEven though the House passed the final version of Keystone earlier this month, only today is the lower chamber sending the bill to the White House for consideration. The president has 10 days to act on the legislation (except for Sunday), or else it becomes law. White House Press Secretary Josh Earnest reiterated Monday the bill will be vetoed.

“I would anticipate, as we’ve been saying for years, that the president will veto that legislation, and he will, so I would not anticipate a lot of drama or fanfare around it,” he said.

Earnest added that Obama will veto the bill because it would conflict with the U.S. State Department’s current review of the TransCanada pipeline, which he says could still be approved later. In a statement on the Senate floor, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., encouraged the president to change his mind:

It’s hard to even imagine what a serious justification for a veto might be…I know powerful special interests and political extremists are pressuring the president to veto American jobs. I hope President Obama will join us in standing for the middle class instead.

This would only be the third veto during Obama’s presidency, noted The Detroit News. But the president has signaled he would ban a 20 week abortion ban if it came to his desk as well as any changes to his immigration policy.

“If rather than try to solve the broken immigration system they compound the problem, I’ll veto it,” he said at a retreat for Democratic House members in Philadelphia last month, Politico reported.

Rep. Fred Upton, R-Mich., chairman of the House Energy and Commerce Committee, said earlier this month that there would be a veto override vote for Keystone XL. “If he vetoes it as we anticipate – I worked at the White House so I know that once a president says something it doesn’t change – yeah, we’ll have a vote.”

h/t: The Washington Post

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This post originally appeared on Western Journalism – Informing And Equipping Americans Who Love Freedom

Senate To Vote On Keystone XL Pipeline Thursday

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The United States Senate will take the final vote on Keystone XL Thursday. Although it is unclear what the final vote tally will be, as many as nine Democrats could join the Republican majority to break the filibuster and send the bill to President Obama’s desk.

The Hill reported Thursday that as many as 63 Senators could vote to approve S.1, the $8 billion TransCanada Keystone Pipeline, including nine Democrats; three short of the number needed to override a veto from President Obama. The president has signaled he would veto the legislation if it were presented to him.

Votes on 35 amendments were held by the Senate for this bill. During the vote on the 15th amendment last week, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., pointed out an interesting milestone:

“We’ve actually reached a milestone here that I think’s noteworthy for the Senate, that we just cast our 15th roll call vote on an amendment on [the Keystone XL] bill which is more votes, more roll call votes on amendments than the entire United States Senate in all of 2014.”

“Constructing Keystone would pump billions into our economy. It would support thousands of good American jobs. And as the President’s own State Department has indicated, it would do this with minimal environmental impact,” McConnell said Thursday in a press release.

The House approved Keystone XL earlier this month, 266 to 153. In the previous Congress last November, the Senate attempted to pass Keystone XL, but fell short by only one vote.

h/t: The Washington Examiner

This post originally appeared on Western Journalism – Informing And Equipping Americans Who Love Freedom

For Obama And His Keystone Cops, This New Pipeline Poll Could Be A Game Changer

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Buoyed by outspoken environmentalists, climate change doomsayers, and liberal lawmakers, President Obama has repeatedly threatened to veto any bill that Congress might send him to authorize the construction of the Keystone XL pipeline.

The House of Representatives has overwhelmingly approved a measure to move forward with the controversial pipeline project. That legislation is now in the Senate, where its fate could be an early test of GOP leader Mitch McConnell’s ability to assemble a bipartisan coalition big enough to override a presidential veto.

Thehill.com reports that contentious debate over the measure could begin on the Senate floor as early as next week.

Democrats are aiming to use the amendment process to force Republicans into a number of tough votes, including on whether to back an amendment that states man-made climate change is happening.

Asked if the Republican caucus was ready to take that vote, McConnell said, “Yeah!”

It will be interesting to see if the results of a brand new poll on the pipeline have any influence in that Senate debate, possibly giving pro-pipeline Republicans a boost in their head-to-head with Obama.

The CNN/ORC poll whose findings were released today shows that the percentage of Americans who support the Keystone project is double the percentage who oppose the construction of the long-delayed oil pipeline.

“The 1,179-mile Canada-to-Texas pipeline is backed by 57% of the 1,011 Americans surveyed on Dec. 18-21. Just 28% oppose it, while 15% say they are unsure.”

CNN notes that the measure up for debate in the Senate would end the State Department’s six-year review of the project and give the green light to its immediate construction.

As Western Journalism has reported, proponents of the international oil pipeline cite its potential for extensive job creation and increased energy independence for Americans.

h/t: CNN

This post originally appeared on Western Journalism – Informing And Equipping Americans Who Love Freedom