McConnell files cloture on anti-trafficking bill

Francis Rivera

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) filed cloture Thursday on an anti-trafficking bill that has stalled in the Senate amid an abortion fight. 

It’s the latest step, as senators try to find a way forward on the Justice for Victims of Trafficking Act, which boosts resources for law enforcement and trafficking victims. 

{mosads}McConnell’s move likely sets up a procedural vote next week. 

Democrats have balked over the legislation’s inclusion of the Hyde Amendment, which blocks federal funding for abortions. 

Senate Minority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) blocked McConnell’s attempt Thursday to allow for an up-or-down vote on removing the abortion provision. 

The Nevada Democrat said McConnell’s offer is “not a viable path forward.” He called on Republicans to simply strip the abortion language from the anti-trafficking bill. 

Democrats argue they were tricked over the abortion measure’s inclusion in the anti-trafficking bill. 

Sen. John Cornyn (R-Texas) suggested Democrats are trying to pick a political fight over abortion. 

“This is a phantom excuse. I don’t believe that Senate Democrats didn’t read the legislation. I don’t believe that their staff didn’t catch this provision,” Cornyn told reporters. “I think this is more about politics.” 

Democrats likely don’t have enough votes to remove the abortion measure from the anti-trafficking bill. 

McConnell threatened Thursday that senators will stay on the anti-trafficking bill until they find a way to pass it. The Senate had been expected to take up Loretta Lynch’s attorney general nomination next week.

Tags Abortion Hyde Amendment Mitch McConnell trafficking

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