Pressure Mounts on Senate Democrats to End Their Filibuster of Anti-Slavery Legislation
‘Democrats couldn’t possibly justify voting for Hyde language in order to help doctors, as they did hours ago, but then look an abused victim in the eye and tell her she’s not worth it.’
WASHINGTON, D.C. – U.S. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell made the following remarks on the Senate floor urging Senate Democrats to end their filibuster of bipartisan human rights legislation:
“Hours ago, 100% of Senate Democrats followed the lead of Republicans and Democrats in the House — including Nancy Pelosi and the Pro-Choice Caucus — in voting to endorse the bipartisan principle that federal funds leaving the government should be subject to bipartisan Hyde language. Given that Americans overwhelmingly support what Hyde does, it’s no wonder this principle has been applied by both parties to appropriations and authorizing legislation for as long as anyone can remember.
“We hope Democrats’ statement of support for Hyde in last night’s Medicare vote will finally clear the way for passage of anti-slavery legislation they had been filibustering over the very same Hyde principle.
“It was never a morally tenable position. Considering what we saw just 12 hours ago, it’s no longer a politically tenable one either.
“Democrats couldn’t possibly justify voting for Hyde language in order to help doctors, as they did hours ago, but then look an abused victim in the eye and tell her she’s not worth it.
“Human trafficking is a serious problem in our country. It’s hard for a lot of people to believe, but it occurs in every single state. I recently saw a news report about a local non-profit that’s worried about trafficking at big events like the Kentucky Derby. "They'll take a girl to one city for one to two weeks,” an official with that group said, “then they'll go to another city, and they just follow these circuits…it's really hard to ever get them out of it…"
“Look: It’s unconscionable for anyone to continue filibustering this human-rights bill over a principle that’s been a fixture in federal law for decades.
“That was in the bill when Democrats cosponsored it and voted unanimously to endorse it in committee.
“And that was endorsed again by Democrats just last night.
“But just to ensure there are no possible excuses left to continue this filibuster, Senator Cornyn offered another compromise amendment last night to eliminate any remaining pretext.
“His compromise ensures that, by supporting this bill, Senate Democrats would only be endorsing the same Hyde language that 100% of them just voted to support last night.
“Remember: this is essentially language endorsed by Nancy Pelosi and the Pro-Choice Caucus.
“It’s actually the third compromise we’ve offered on the Senate floor to our friends across the aisle.
“First, we offered our colleagues a simple up or down vote last month to strike the language that they once were for — before they decided to be against it.
“Then, before the recess, Senator Cornyn offered to make the monies in the fund subject to the appropriations process, something our Democratic colleagues had said was important to them.
“So this is now the third compromise we’ve offered on the floor. It’s time for Democrats of courage to finally bring their party’s filibuster of anti-slavery legislation to an end.
“A large bipartisan majority of the Senate has already demonstrated its commitment to doing so.
“And all that’s needed now are a couple more Democrats to join us.
“All that’s needed now are a couple more Democrats willing to show the same level of compassion to enslaved victims they offered to doctors just a few hours ago.
“As an official with the Coalition against Trafficking in Women put it, our Democratic colleagues should stop ‘choosing a phantom problem over real victims.’
“Because, as the Los Angeles Times said: ‘…the Hyde Amendment has been the law for many years. A fight over whether a fraction of the projected millions of dollars in aid to victims of trafficking and hunters of traffickers can be used on abortion services seems fruitless, and the bill should not be derailed by such a fight.’
“This has gone on long enough. It’s time for Senators of conscience to stand up and end this filibuster now.
Now, on one other matter:
“Before Easter, the Senate passed a balanced budget. The House of Representatives did too.
“Now, the next step in the process is for each chamber to appoint members to a Conference Committee that can work out any differences between those bills, and then send unified legislation back to Congress for a final vote.
“We’re taking that next step today.
“Some of our friends across the aisle seem eager to use this opportunity to rehash some of the same votes we took in passing the budget. The outcome on these votes won’t be different, so I’m not sure what the point would be — other than to slow down the process for its own sake.
“So I’d urge them to reconsider and decide if that’s really what they want to do.
“Either way, the new Congress is determined to keep working to finalize the budget.
“After years of a Senate that often refused to even consider a budget, this is a big change. And it’s another example of the new Congress that’s back to regular order, and back to work.”
Related Issues: Senate Democrats, Defending Life, Budget, Combating Sex Trafficking