A Minnesota Senator's bill to fight sex trafficking may finally have broken free from the political logjam that's kept it in limbo on Capitol Hill for more than a month.
The impasse has also delayed the confirmation of a new U.S. Attorney General and caused "weeks of grief" for Minnesota Democrat Amy Klobuchar, according to Politico.
The bill that Klobuchar co-authored was thought to be non-controversial – until an anti-abortion provision that Klobuchar and fellow Democrats had failed to notice came to light.
Democrats refused to bring the bill up for a vote as long as it contained the abortion language. Republicans, in turn, refused to hold a confirmation vote on Attorney General nominee Loretta Lynch.
Politico says the episode has caused some bickering among Senate Democrats and suggests Klobuchar is as relieved as anyone to put it in the rear view mirror.
What was controversial?
The bill is called the Justice for Victims of Trafficking Act.
It would allow federal authorities to seize the assets of convicted sex traffickers and then use that money to set up a fund to help their victims.
The snag developed when Klobuchar belatedly realized language in the bill would prohibit using the fund to cover the cost of an abortion for a sex trafficking victim.
Klobuchar told CNN the breakthrough came while she was driving through western Minnesota cornfields on her way to an appearance in Moorhead during the Senate's spring recess. She thought of dividing the fund into two parts – one for medical assistance, the other for non-medical expenses – and pulled over to phone her Senate colleagues and run the idea past them.
However, Forum News Service points out that even the medical assistance fund will still be subject to the ban on abortion funding.
But as the New York Times notes, Lynch's nomination has now languished in the Senate for five months. And with the anti-trafficking bill also stuck in neutral, there was plenty of eagerness for a deal.
Klobuchar issued a statement hailing the agreement and spoke in support of it on the Senate floor.
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