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Anti-Trafficking Bill Considered by the Senate

This week, the Senate considered the Justice for Victims of Trafficking Act (S. 178), a bill that would establish a fund to aid domestic trafficking victims. The Senate Judiciary Committee approved the legislation on February 26 (see The Source, 2/27/15).

Action on the previously noncontroversial bill, sponsored by Sen. John Cornyn (R-TX), was delayed because the bill contains language that restricts federal funding for abortions, also known as the Hyde Amendment. Specifically, the bill would apply the Hyde Amendment to the victims’ compensation fund used to provide services to victims of trafficking.

Senate Democrats refused to allow passage of the bill, asserting that the abortion-related provision was inserted after the Senate Judiciary Committee cleared the bill. Senate Republicans rejected the accusation and charged that Senate Democrats had failed to read the bill thoroughly and were playing politics with the bill on the Senate floor.

In a press release, Sen. Cornyn stated, “It is becoming increasingly clear that Democrats are perfectly content to play politics with the most apolitical issue – stopping human traffickers and helping their victims. We gave the Democrats exactly what they were asking for, and they still refused to help sex trafficking victims.”

Also in a press release, Senate Minority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV) stated, “The bill dealing with human trafficking is going to pass. If we don’t do it now, we’ll do it in the future. It is something that is imperative that we get done, but it should not be dealt with in relation to abortion.

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