The Senate hit an unexpected delay in the consideration of nominee Loretta Lynch for attorney general due to the discovery of an anti-abortion provision hidden within a bipartisan human trafficking bill, which has recently reached an impasse.
“I had hoped to turn to her next week, but if we can’t finish the trafficking bill, she will be put off again,” said majority leader Mitch McConnell on CNN on the delay in Lynch’s confirmation. This delay is the latest in a series of interruptions in the more than four months since Lynch’s nomination, who would make history as the first black woman to serve as the Attorney General.
The trafficking bill in question is the Justice for Victims of Trafficking Act, sponsored by Republican Senator John Cornyn (R-TX). The bipartisan bill had been expected to pass smoothly through Congress, until Democratic party noticed a small provision of the bill that would effectively strengthen the Hyde Amendment, which bans spending federal dollars on abortion.
“This bill will not be used as an opportunity for Republicans to double down on their efforts to restrict a woman’s health-care choices,” said Sen. Patty Murray (D-WA). “It is absolutely wrong and, honestly, it is shameful. 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.”
Democrats are hopeful that the trafficking bill can be settled and passed quickly, so long as there is Republican support to remove the language limiting abortion access.
“We can finish this bill in 20 minutes,” said Democratic leader Senator Harry Reid. “The only thing that needs to be done is the language relating to abortion should come out of this bill. Abortion and human trafficking have nothing to do with each other.”
Media Resources: CNN 3/15/15; Congress.gov SB178; WashingtonPost 3/10/15; NY Times 3/12/15