Deal reached on human trafficking bill paves way for Lynch vote – CNN
Washington (CNN)Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell announced Tuesday that negotiators had reached a “bipartisan” deal on the anti-human trafficking bill, and clearing the way for a vote to confirm Attorney General nominee Loretta Lynch “hopefully in the next day or so.”
“I’m glad we can say there is a bipartisan proposal that will allow us to complete action on this important legislation, so we can provide help to the victims who desperately need it,” he said on the Senate floor.
Minority Leader Harry Reid said that Republicans had “agreed not to expand the scope of the Hyde language,” the abortion provision that had been the sticking point for Senate Democrats who had been filibustering the bill. The compromise marks the end of a standoff on the anti-human trafficking bill that further expanded an already months-long delay on Lynch’s confirmation vote.
McConnell said Tuesday that “as soon as we finish the trafficking bill,” they’ll take up Lynch’s confirmation vote — “hopefully in the next day or so.”
Lynch’s nomination has taken on historic proportions and not just since she would be the first African-American woman to lead the Justice Department. No other nominee for attorney general has had to wait this long for Senate confirmation — 164 days — since Ronald Reagan was in the White House.
At issue is language in the anti-human trafficking bill, inserted by Republicans without the knowledge of most Democrats, that would prevent restitution funds paid to victims of sex trafficking from being used to pay for abortions.
Democrats fiercely oppose the provision and have blocked the bill from moving forward until it’s removed.
Senate leaders are expected to talk about the emerging compromise at their respective party lunches Tuesday afternoon. McConnell and Senate Minority Leader Harry Reid will do their regular post-lunch press conferences around 2 p.m.
Lynch’s nomination faces a few GOP critics, but has enough votes to get confirmed.
Republican Sen. John McCain of Arizona, who plans to vote against Lynch’s confirmation, told CNN’s Wolf Blitzer on the “Situation Room” Monday he expects a vote “fairly soon.”
McCain pushed back against the notion that Republicans’ five-month refusal to bring Lynch’s nomination up for a vote was a form of retribution against Democrats.
Earlier on Monday, Democratic Sen. Debbie Stabenow called the delay “politics at its worst.”
Lynch supporters have accused Republicans of delaying in part because she’s an African-American woman, a charge they dismiss.