McConnell: No Loretta Lynch confirmation until vote on human trafficking bill
"It's not a threat. We need to finish this human trafficking bill that came out of the Judiciary Committee unanimously . . . because the next week we'll be doing the budget and the next two weeks after that Congress is not in session," McConnell said on CNN's "State of the Union."
The Justice for Victims of Trafficking Act, authored by Sen. John Cornyn (R-Tex.), has been stalled after Democrats accused Republicans of sneaking anti-abortion language into the bill. McConnell noted that Democrats on the Judiciary Committee unanimously agreed on the bill before forwarding it.
"They all voted for the very same language in a bill in December," he said.
Senate Democrats say Republicans sneaked the language into authorization measures. At question is a provision that the new Domestic Trafficking Victims’ Fund will be subject to Hyde Amendment limitations. The long-standing amendment prohibits the use of federal taxpayer funds for abortions. The new fund, created under the proposed bill, would be supported by fines imposed on traffickers.
About the Hyde amendment, you may recall back in 2009, during the health care reform debate it was a very sticky wicket with a few conservative democrats, particularly former congressperson Bart Stupak who wanted the Hyde Amendment
as a permanent part of the ACA. He wrote this in 2010 about that provision
Therefore, I and other pro-life Democrats struck an agreement with President Obama to issue an executive order that would ensure all Hyde Amendment protections would apply to the health-care reform bill. No, an executive order is not as strong as the statutory language we fought for at the start. We received, however, an "ironclad" commitment from the president that no taxpayer dollars will be used to pay for abortions.
Throughout history, executive orders have carried the full force and effect of law and have served as an important means of implementing public policy. Perhaps the most famous executive order was the Emancipation Proclamation signed by President Abraham Lincoln in 1863. More recently, in 2007, President George W. Bush signed Executive Order 13435, restricting embryonic stem-cell research. This executive order protected the sanctity of life and was "applauded" and "welcomed" by pro-life advocates. That these same people would now claim that President Obama's executive order maintaining the sanctity of life is not worth the paper it is written on is disingenuous at best.
This information, coupled with the reality that the Hyde Amendment has historically been attached to appropriation bills
, makes this lack confirmation for the Attorney General strange.
One of the quirks of the Hyde amendment is that it is a "rider" to an annual appropriations bill, which means it is not permanent law, but must be renewed by Congress each year. So each year, there is the potential to change the language or drop it altogether.
There have been only sporadic efforts to drop it, but the House and Senate did battle repeatedly over the specific language of the Hyde amendment in the late 1970s and early 1980s. And meanwhile, Hyde-type funding bans were extended to other annual spending bills as well. Eventually, federal abortion funding would be banned in federal worker health plans, women in federal prisons, women in the military, peace corps volunteers and international family planning programs that use non-U.S. funds to perform or advocate for abortion.
Why the media isn't mentioning this is beyond my limited knowledge. To attach what has traditionally been an appropriations issue to a law that seeks to prevent human sex tracking is reprehensible. Representative Patty Murray said it perfectly:
The GOP wants to make the Hyde amendment permanent
. That is more important to them than stopping sex slavery — and confirming an Attorney General. There is no reason for a confirmation vote to be held. There is no reason the Hyde amendment should be attached to a sex slavery prevention bill.
The priorities of the Republican-led legislative branch is utterly horrific.