The big brouhaha about Sex Trafficking and the Hyde Amendment is finally over in the U.S. Senate. Yesterday the Justice for Victims of Trafficking Act unanimously passed—with the Hyde Amendment language firmly intact.
The leaders of the pro-life side deserve credit all around: Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) for hanging in there, and Sen. John Cornyn (R-TX), for midwifing a compromise. It goes to show where there’s a will there’s a way.
For three months Senate Democrats filibustered a bill many of them had already voted for in the previous Congress, falsely claiming to have suddenly “discovered” language in it prohibiting the use of federal funds for abortion (ideology often trumps truth in Washington). The Democrats’ position was: No Hyde Amendment or no Trafficking bill.
Maybe it was Harry Reid still deluding himself that he could set the agenda of the Senate in his new capacity as Minority Leader. Maybe it was the abortion lobby testing the strength of the pro-life coalition. In any case, Democrats were forced to back down because McConnell held firm: The Senate, he insisted, was not doing anything else until the Trafficking bill passed.
Then Dems began complaining that the nomination of Loretta Lynch, their candidate for U.S. Attorney General, was languishing because of the filibuster. At first the left-leaning media tried to cry “racism” on the part of Republicans. But eventually blame was laid where it properly belonged, and the moment was ripe for deal.
Cornyn worked with Patty Murray (D-WA) and Amy Klobuchar (D-MN)—the de facto leaders in the Senate on trafficking—who were willing to compromise to see their bill enacted.
The issue was how to spend the fines and penalties collected from perpetrators of sex trafficking, which were designated to go into a Domestic Trafficking Victims’ Fund. Hyde Amendment language in the original bill stipulated that money from this fund could not pay for abortions. The compromise reached by the three senators (Amendment #1124) creates two separate funding streams: The first would allot income from fines collected from sex traffickers to survivor services such as those providing shelter, but excludes health care. The second stream will fund Community Health Centers—already covered by the Hyde Amendment.
When the resolution was reached, Majority Leader McConnell (R-KY) brought the bill to the floor, where it passed 99-0. Since the House has already passed it, and the President has said he will sign it, this goes into the “mission accomplished” column.
NARAL is angry, Planned Parenthood is mad—for the pro-life movement, this counts as a victory. The Senators who won this fight deserve credit, and the credit should be tangible.
In other words, fellow prolifers: Say thank you!
How often do prolifers only bother to take pen in hand (or fingers to keyboard) when we have something to complain about? Far too often, I’m afraid. But as the old adage goes: You catch more flies with honey than with vinegar.
There will be more fights, and as 2016 gets closer, they will get uglier. Think of this as a rehearsal. Praise those who performed well at the rehearsal and they’ll go into the next performance with renewed energy.
So before you leave your computer after reading this, click on www.senate.gov. Find Kentucky and Texas and thank McConnell and Cornyn. Then be bi-partisan: Find Minnesota and Washington and thank Klobuchar and Murray, too.
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Connie Marshner organized her first pro-life meeting in 1971, among Capitol Hill staffers who sensed a drift toward legalizing abortion. She’s worked in the movement in one capacity or another ever since.