Posted by Curt on 16 March, 2015 at 10:52 am. 1 comment.


David Hauptmann: via email:

The Washington Post editors weigh in today on Senate Democrats’ threatened filibuster of a bipartisan bill to combat sex trafficking. “This week the question will be whether senators can put the interests of scared, abused children ahead of the chance to score political points. The Justice for Victims of Trafficking Act of 2015, introduced by Sen. John Cornyn (R-Tex.) with an impressive bipartisan roster of co-sponsors, would strengthen the ability of law enforcement authorities to go after those who purchase sex from someone who has been trafficked and would direct criminal fines paid by perpetrators into a fund to help victims. The bill won unanimous approval from the Senate Judiciary Committee. ‘The most comprehensive and thoughtful piece of anti-trafficking legislation currently pending,’ Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) said last Monday.”

But The Post editors write, “Within a day, Democrats were threatening a filibuster, claiming Republicans had sneaked anti-abortion language into the bill — a provision that essentially applies Hyde Act restrictions on the use of federal funds for abortions to the victim restitution fund. . . . [B]ut it was in the bill when it was released in January, it was there when the bill was marked up in committee and it was there when the 68-page bill was unanimously passed; Democrats have only themselves to blame if they overlooked it.”

Indeed, they clearly did not read the bill until they started talking about the Hyde amendment language last week. Senate Minority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV) even admitted that “somebody should have read the bill more closely.”

As The Washington Post editors explain, “Far more significant, though, is whether the provision justifies the defeat of this important legislation. . . .Democrats overstate the extent to which this provision would lengthen the reach of the Hyde Act. True, the money in question would come from fines and not federal taxpayer dollars, but since the fund would be a federal creation, is that such a stretch? Also true, this anti-abortion provision would be in effect for five years, while the Hyde Act must be reauthorized annually. But since the Hyde Act has been in force for four decades, the practical difference again is slight.”

Appearing on CNN’s State of the Union yesterday, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell said, “The Democrats are acting the same way in the minority as they did in the majority. They don’t like to vote. Here are the facts: a noncontroversial bill that came out of the Judiciary Committee, they all voted for the same language in a bill in December. This is boilerplate language that’s been in the law for almost 40 years that they all voted for three months ago in another bill. We are not going to be able to finish the trafficking bill until this gets resolved. This will have an impact on the timing of considering the new attorney general.”

The Washington Post editors conclude their editorial chiding Senate Democrats, “The question is whether the senators who want to accomplish something can overcome the advocacy groups and politicians who would rather use this controversy as one more opportunity to raise funds and sharpen divisions.”

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