Senators renew fight on trafficking bill

Greg Nash
Senators on Tuesday renewed a weeks-long fight over a stalled bill to curb human trafficking, with each side blaming the other for the lack of progress. 
Sen. John Cornyn (R-Texas) said he has offered another amendment to the Justice for Victims of Trafficking Act, which bolsters resources for law enforcement and victims, that would send money for trafficking victims through the appropriations process. 
“We would basically handle all of the funds that go into this compensation fund through the regular appropriations process, and we will use these same Hyde Amendment language that was negotiated between Nancy Pelosi and Speaker Boehner in the ‘doc fix’ bill,” he said. 
{mosads}Cornyn said Republicans have “made concrete proposals to try to address [Democratic] concerns while maintaining the basic integrity of the bill.” 
Under the Texas Republicans’ amendment, money in the victims fund would have to be transferred directly from the General Treasury Fund. Money from criminal fines will be then deposited into the General Treasury to offset the withdrawal.
Cornyn suggested with his amendment, Democrats have little reason not to move forward on the anti-trafficking bill. 
“I don’t know how in the world they could possibly object when we’re answering — responding to their concerns and saying, you know, we’re willing to work with you to address those, in the interest of all of these victims of human trafficking,” he said. “We’ll find out.’
Sen. Patty Murray (D-Wash.) suggested that while the abortion language in the Medicare “doc fix” bill is “very different” than the anti-trafficking legislation, Senate Democrats are standing firm on their pledge to not expand the Hyde Amendment. 
“[It’s] very different than the trafficking bill that is now on the Senate agenda at this time, which for the very first time ever uses non-taxpayer dollars … and applies Hyde to them,” she said. “That is a bridge we are not going to allow to be crossed.”
She added that Democrats “will not accept language that simply hides the Hyde.” 
“We are trying to work our way through this. But I will tell you at the end of the day, we will not accept language that simply hides the Hyde,” she said. “If the Hyde language is in it and is extended for the first time ever to non-taxpayer dollars, that is a non-starter for all of us.” 
While acknowledging that Cornyn has offered a new amendment, she said Senate Democrats have offered Republicans “nine proposals at this point and they have rejected every single one of them.” 
Democrats blocked the Senate from moving forward on the anti-trafficking bill last month before lawmakers left for a weeks-long recess because of a fight over abortion. They argue that the legislation as written would extend the Hyde Amendment, which restricts the use of federal funding for abortions, by applying it to the legislations’ victims fund. 
They say the abortion restrictions have generally been applied to funding that Congress appropriates, while the victims fund currently gets its money from criminal fines. 
Sen. Charles Schumer (D-N.Y.), however, suggested the blame on the lack of progress lays squarely with Republicans, saying they refuse to “move forward on bipartisan legislation to stop human trafficking because they want to score points for the anti-choice special interests.”
Tags Boehner Charles Schumer John Cornyn Patty Murray
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