Not A Good Look: Human Trafficking Bill Held Up Over Attention To Detail
The reasons Senate Democrats give for suddenly slammed the breaks on an anti-human trafficking bill this week are numerous, but one thing is clear: for them, it’s definitely been awkward.
The 68-page anti-human trafficking bill has 13 Democratic cosponsors and was supposed to pass easily Tuesday, but Democrats suddenly reversed course and are now holding the bill hostage over standard language preventing federal funding of abortions, except in cases of rape, incest or life of the mother.
Democrats claim they didn’t notice the abortion language until this week, and accuse Republicans of “sneaking” it into the bill. Republicans say that’s bogus, and accuse the Democrats of lying about it for political gain. (RELATED: Dems Remember To Read Bill They’re Pushing, Throw A Fit)
Whatever the case, it’s not a good look for Senate Dems.
The language of the bill has been publicly available online since it was introduced in January, and the abortion language is on page 4 of the bill. In February, it passed unanimously through the Senate Judiciary Committee after Republicans and Democrats on the committee examined the bill and offered amendments.
So it’s hard to believe not a single Democrat or any of their staffers read the bill carefully enough to catch the abortion language. And yet, that’s exactly what they claim.
Their aides. Had not. Read. The bill … which was months old and less than 70 pages.
“In order to think that people missed it, and all of a sudden discovered it just this week really is not plausible,” Republican Sen. John Cornyn, a sponsor of the bill, said at a press conference Thursday.
A Senate aide told The Daily Caller News Foundation it’s a fundraising ploy. “Democrats are basically trying to fundraise off of this,” he said. “They’re trying to make it sound like they are standing up for women’s rights by holding up a bill that is protecting women.”
“Look how quickly they turn on their own people,” he added.
Maybe they did create this mess on purpose to score points with pro-abortion groups, such as NARAL and Planned Parenthood, who are now condemning the bill and calling on Senators to remove the abortion language with the hashtag “StrikeTheBan.”
Or maybe they did it to obscure a different objection to the bill — an amendment designed to curb illegal immigration proposed by Republican Sen. John Vitter. (RELATED: Senate Democrats Fight For More Illegals In Anti-Prostitution Bill)
“It appears they’re scared to vote on amendments like mine, to close the birthright citizenship loophole,” Vitter told TheDCNF.
Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell offered to let Democrats offer an amendment stripping the bill of the abortion language, if they stop blocking the bill, but they refused his offer.
Maybe Senate Democrats aren’t actually blocking a bipartisan bill that would help trafficking victims for political purposes. But that would mean they failed to read the bill carefully enough to catch the abortion language.
“Of course we read the bill,” Adam Jentleson, a spokesperson for Senate Minority Leader Harry Reid, told TheDCNF. “But it’s easy to miss the language if you’re not looking for it, which we weren’t since Republicans told us it wasn’t in the bill.”
Read it, but not carefully, he said.
Is it worth then killing bill over the abortion language?
“No. We want the bill to pass,” he said.
So Reid and McConnell are in yet another face-off.
“I’ll say this to everybody out there who cares about this bill,” McConnell said on the Senate floor Thursday. “We’re going to stay on it until we finish it.”
Reid also insisted the bill would pass, but without the abortion language. “The legislation dealing with human trafficking is going to pass this Congress, but it’s going to pass this congress without abortion language in it,” he said on the floor Thursday.
The Senate will take up the bill again next week.
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