The Senate unanimously passed a bill intended to help human trafficking victims Wednesday, ending a weeks-long standoff over abortion funding language that’s been holding up the confirmation of Loretta Lynch as President Barack Obama’s next attorney general.
Republican Sen. Ted Cruz missed the vote, but every other senator voted to pass the bill, which was amended to satisfy Democrats concerned the original bill expanded abortion restrictions.
The language at issue is a standard addition to spending bills banning federal funding of abortion, except in cases of rape, incest or life of the mother. In the original bill the language would have prevented women from using compensation from a fund paid into by the perpetrators to get an abortion.
The bill now has two separate funds from which victims can be compensated, a change solely to appease Democrats, who claimed they didn’t notice the abortion language until they had voted the bill unanimously out of committee and to the floor. (RELATED: Republicans Mollify Dems To End Human Trafficking Fight)
The first is the original fund paid into by perpetrators, which is now restricted to non-medical use, and the second is a medical fund paid into by taxpayers. None of the money can be used to fund an abortion, except in cases of rape, incest or life of the mother — as was the case in the original bill.
Both parties have managed to “save face,” and Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell will now allow a vote on the confirmation of Lynch, which he was holding hostage until the trafficking bill moved forward. (RELATED: Jeff Sessions Makes His Case Against Loretta Lynch)
McConnell said he “appreciates” Senate Democrats’ decision to end the filibuster of the bill, without violating the ban on federal funding of abortion. “The result is passage of yet another bipartisan bill from the Senate — one that will provide critical help for those who need it most,” he said in a statement following the vote.
Last week the Senate passed a bipartisan healthcare bill to fix the way Medicare payments are made to doctors that is estimated to add half a billion dollars to the national debt over the next twenty years.