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