Concord, N.H. – As Kelly Ayotte continues to play politics with trafficking victims, refusing to strip language restricting women’s access to health care from an anti-trafficking bill, the Keene Sentinel editorial board decried the fact that such an important bill is being stalled out of blind partisanship.
Click here for the full Keene Sentinel editorial or see excerpt below:
“My wish is that we hadn’t junked that bill up with abortion politics. Let’s just stand for the principle that we are all against slavery and keep the bill clean of extraneous provisions, and that applies to (Department of Homeland Security) appropriations, too.”
So said Republican Sen. Mark S. Kirk of Illinois Tuesday after a once-straightforward bill opposing human trafficking fell victim to ideology, partisan politics and failed lawmaking.
The bill in question, which would create the Justice for Victims of Trafficking Act, had the simple goal of upping the fines and restitution to be paid by those convicted of serious human trafficking crimes. It had wide bipartisan support.
And there’s the problem. In today’s Congress, the only reaction to a bill everyone likes is to attach a rider, either adding something you want that would never pass under normal circumstances or a poison pill designed to tank the measure altogether.
… In the case of Senate 178, the original bill went into the Senate Judiciary Committee as an attempt to toughen laws concerning slavery and child pornography and somehow came out sporting language to extend elements of the anti-abortion Hyde Amendment to funding in the Justice for Victims of Trafficking Act.
… Even worse, there’s no getting around the intention of the amendment. It inserts completely unrelated, ideological language into a bill that nearly everyone in Congress was otherwise prepared to back, and in doing so, it has stalled the effort, leaving the victims of human trafficking and child pornography to wonder why partisan bickering trumps their very real concerns.
New Hampshire’s two members of the Senate responded as we might expect. Democrat Jeanne Shaheen called for the abortion language to be removed; Kelly Ayotte ignored the amendment while joining party leaders in cynically blaming Democrats for holding up the bill over “partisan disagreements.”
However, Kirk, one of the bill’s original sponsors, isn’t the only member of Congress calling out his brethren for putting true partisan politics before protecting the innocent.
U.S. Rep. Erik Paulsen, R-Minn, who generally supports restricting federal funding of abortions, also decried the effort to slip the language into S 178: “There is no reason it should be included in these bills. This issue is far too important to tie it up with an unrelated fight with politics as usual,” he told the Minneapolis Star Tribune. “To me, this is about saving lives.”
Meanwhile, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., in an out-of-touch move that only serves to further drive home the message that winning is the only thing for congressional leaders, has vowed to hold the confirmation of attorney general nominee Loretta Lynch hostage until the bill passes the Senate.
Welcome to Washington.