Friday, June 23, 2017

Human Trafficking Bill

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At a time when the U.S. Senate is celebrating Women’s History Month, Democrats today blocked passage of Justice for Victims of Trafficking Act of 2015 – legislation to fight human trafficking that contained abortion language objectionable to the Left.

Another reason cited for voting “NO” to end the filibuster and send the measure to the floor for a straight up or down vote is the battle being waged in the Senate over the nomination of Loretta Lynch – President Obama’s pick to replace Attorney General Eric H. Holder Jr. at the Justice Department.

According to the Senate legislative summary,

The bill would increase the fine on any non-indigent person or entity convicted of a crime involving: (1) peonage, slavery, or trafficking in persons; (2) sexual abuse; (3) sexual exploitation and other abuse of children; (4) transportation for illegal sexual activity; or (5) human smuggling in violation of the Immigration and Nationality Act.

The legislation would also establish the Domestic Trafficking Victims’ Fund that would act as a depository for fines collected under the legislation and would be used to help victims of child pornography.

The feud over the legislation is the latest flare up between Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, (R-KY) and Minority Leader Harry Reid, (D-NV) over the pace of legislation in the chamber and the nomination of Lynch.

While supporters point out that Ms. Lynch would be the first black female to head the Justice Department, opponents have organized against her pointing to her congressional testimony where she voiced support for the legality of President Obama’s Executive Amnesty for illegal immigrants.

The Democrat Caucus held firm against ending the filibuster against the human trafficking legislation save four Democrat defectors – Sens. Bob Casey of Pennsylvania, Joe Donnelly of Indiana, Heidi Heitkamp of North Dakota and Joe Manchin of West Virginia – bringing the final vote to 56-43 with 2 not voting – well short of the 60 votes needed to end debate.

According to Stephen Dinan reporting for The Washington Times, the forever partisan Sen. Reid said the Senate could put off the trafficking bill until the Senate votes on the nomination of Ms. Lynch. Reacting angrily, Sen. Reid said:

“The chief law enforcement officer in our country is being detained because of this fight between Democrats and Republicans as to whether an abortion provision should be in this bill. We believe it shouldn’t be in this bill. Republicans believe it should be…”

Sen. McConnell, who controls the legislative calendar, “tried to force Democrats to accept something they don’t want — the abortion provisions in the trafficking bill — in exchange for something they do want in the Lynch vote.” Sen. McConnell made a last-minute procedural move to switch his vote from YEA to NAY, allowing him to demand a revote later.

The final vote was as follows:

YEAs —55

Alexander (R-TN) Ernst (R-IA) Paul (R-KY)
Ayotte (R-NH) Fischer (R-NE) Perdue (R-GA)
Barrasso (R-WY) Flake (R-AZ) Portman (R-OH)
Blunt (R-MO) Gardner (R-CO) Risch (R-ID)
Boozman (R-AR) Grassley (R-IA) Roberts (R-KS)
Burr (R-NC) Hatch (R-UT) Rounds (R-SD)
Capito (R-WV) Heitkamp (D-ND) Rubio (R-FL)
Casey (D-PA) Heller (R-NV) Sasse (R-NE)
Cassidy (R-LA) Hoeven (R-ND) Scott (R-SC)
Coats (R-IN) Inhofe (R-OK) Sessions (R-AL)
Cochran (R-MS) Isakson (R-GA) Shelby (R-AL)
Collins (R-ME) Johnson (R-WI) Sullivan (R-AK)
Corker (R-TN) Kirk (R-IL) Thune (R-SD)
Cornyn (R-TX) Lankford (R-OK) Tillis (R-NC)
Cotton (R-AR) Lee (R-UT) Toomey (R-PA)
Crapo (R-ID) Manchin (D-WV) Vitter (R-LA)
Daines (R-MT) McCain (R-AZ) Wicker (R-MS)
Donnelly (D-IN) Moran (R-KS)
Enzi (R-WY) Murkowski (R-AK)

NAYs —43

Baldwin (D-WI) Hirono (D-HI) Reed (D-RI)
Bennet (D-CO) Kaine (D-VA) Reid (D-NV)
Blumenthal (D-CT) King (I-ME) Sanders (I-VT)
Booker (D-NJ) Klobuchar (D-MN) Schatz (D-HI)
Boxer (D-CA) Leahy (D-VT) Schumer (D-NY)
Brown (D-OH) Markey (D-MA) Shaheen (D-NH)
Cantwell (D-WA) McCaskill (D-MO) Stabenow (D-MI)
Cardin (D-MD) McConnell (R-KY) Tester (D-MT)
Carper (D-DE) Menendez (D-NJ) Udall (D-NM)
Coons (D-DE) Merkley (D-OR) Warner (D-VA)
Durbin (D-IL) Mikulski (D-MD) Warren (D-MA)
Feinstein (D-CA) Murphy (D-CT) Whitehouse (D-RI)
Franken (D-MN) Murray (D-WA) Wyden (D-OR)
Gillibrand (D-NY) Nelson (D-FL)
Heinrich (D-NM) Peters (D-MI)

Not Voting – 2

Cruz (R-TX) Graham (R-SC)

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In an article more befitting of The Onion, Senate Democrats are quickly backtracking on a proposed human trafficking bill–because apparently all of them forgot to read the bill.

While the bill was initially bipartisan and non-controversial–cracking down on human trafficking is something both parties strongly support–Democrats didn’t notice that there were provisions dealing with abortion. Namely, that the proposed “Domestic Trafficking Victims’ Fund” would be prohibited from using taxpayer funds to finance abortion.

“What do you want me to tell you? We missed it!” explained Senate Minority Whip Dick Durbin, one of the Democrats who didn’t do his homework. “Clearly if it had been front and center, we would have caught it.”

The abortion provision was on page 4.

Contrary to Senator Durbin’s claims, Democrats had a number of chances to spot the abortion language. The bill was approved unanimously by the Senate Judiciary Panel, where Democrats offered amendments–including one on the very same page as the abortion language. And, two weeks later, the the bill was released to all Democratic Senators–who agreed to vote for it as written.

Senator John Cornyn, a Republican from Texas who sponsored the bill, was shocked: “It’s a little perplexing, right? I assume that all of the Democrat senators have highly capable professional staff and that they actually read the bills. And that they advise their senator before they agree to cosponsor and before they agree to vote for it.”

Leave it to Congress to screw things up with incompetence and laziness, even when they agree.


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