Senate leaders today announced a deal to move forward on a stalled human trafficking bill, clearing the way for a vote on Loretta Lynch, President Obama’s attorney general nominee, within days, the Associated Press reports. The deal aimed to solve a dispute over abortion that had stalled the once-popular trafficking bill for weeks. Lynch was caught in the crossfire, infuriating Democrats, because Republican leaders decided to hold off on her confirmation vote until the trafficking bill was resolved. Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) He said he anticipated a vote on Lynch, who will become the nation’s first black female attorney general, “in the next day or so.”
The trafficking deal aims to address Democratic concerns that the legislation would expand existing prohibitions on spending federal funds for abortions. The legislation envisions a new victims fund made up of fees paid by sex criminals. Democrats said applying abortion spending prohibitions to that new source of non-taxpayer funds was an expansion they could not accept. Republicans had to be satisfied that abortion spending prohibitions were not curtailed. The final language solves the problem by establishing two sources of money for the new victims’ fund. Money collected from fines assessed on criminal perpetrators would be used for services such as legal aid, but not health or medical services, and therefore language on abortion would not be relevant.