McConnell: History Won’t Forget if Senate Democrats Filibuster Bill to Help Victims of Human Trafficking
‘Let’s remember what this debate should really be about. It shouldn’t be about what left-wing lobbyists want. It should be about helping the victims of modern slavery.’
WASHINGTON, D.C. – U.S. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell made the following remarks on the Senate floor today urging Senate Democrats to end their filibuster of bipartisan human rights legislation:
“In about an hour, the Democrat Party will confront a momentous choice.
“Will Democrats launch a historic filibuster against helping oppressed victims of modern slavery, because left-wing lobbyists appear to demand it?
“Democrats filibustering help for terrified children and abused women would represent a new low.
“And the American people would not soon forget it. Nor should they.
“It’s hard to even keep straight anymore why Democrats would filibuster this human-rights bill.
“The bill Democrats now oppose was introduced months ago by a Democrat and a Republican.
“The bill Democrats now oppose was originally cosponsored by 13 Democrats.
“The bill Democrats now oppose was approved by every Democrat on the Judiciary Committee.
“And the bill Democrats now oppose was brought to the floor last Monday after Democrats agreed unanimously to do so.
“But that was Monday. By Tuesday, Democrats were threatening to launch a historic filibuster against helping the abused and the enslaved.
“Democrats’ supposed rationale was that they hadn’t bothered to read the very bill they’d introduced, and cosponsored, and voted for.
“That’s a stunning admission. But as embarrassing as this admission might be for Democrats, it doesn’t tell the full story. It’s obviously absurd to believe that not a single one of the 13 Democrats who originally cosponsored this bill — and not a single member of any of these Senators’ well-educated staffs — would have read this bill before agreeing to support it.
“The bipartisan Hyde language Democrats now cite as the basis for their human-rights filibuster wouldn’t have been hard to find.
“It was sitting right there on page four.
“Democrats would have recognized the bipartisan Hyde provision easily. That’s because so many Senate Democrats voted to support the same bipartisan provision in December when they voted for the so-called ‘Cromnibus.’
“The top Democrat on the Judiciary Committee certainly would have noticed the Hyde provision he supported in December — he actually offered an unrelated amendment to the very same page as the provision he now objects to.
“The bipartisan Hyde language is supported by about 7 in 10 Americans as a policy principle, and has been part and parcel of the legislating process for decades. It appears in just about every funding bill we consider. And it appears in numerous authorizing bills that have received bipartisan support.
“Not surprisingly, the leadership of the House of Representatives said last night that ‘any House-Senate agreement on a trafficking bill that includes a victims fund will’ have to contain ‘the Hyde amendment, as we have done for nearly 40 years.’
“The Washington Post recently noted in an editorial that ‘the Hyde Act has been in force for four decades,’ and pointedly asked whether the inclusion of this bipartisan provision ‘justifies the defeat of this important legislation.’
“Given the long legislative history of this bipartisan provision, and the overwhelming popular support for what it does, the answer, obviously, is no.
“Let’s remember what this debate should really be about.
“It shouldn’t be about what left-wing lobbyists want.
“It should be about helping the victims of modern slavery.
“Victims like Melissa, who my colleague Senator Cornyn has spoken about before.
“Melissa was sold into the sex trade when she was just 12 years old.
“Beaten regularly. Chained to a bed in a warehouse. Even set on fire by those who enslaved her.
“Melissa said she just wanted to die.
“And when Melissa finally escaped the grasp of her tormentors, she wasn’t treated like a victim—Melissa was treated like a criminal by our justice system.
“It’s stories like Melissa’s that should be motivating every member in this chamber to act.
“The victims who suffer in dark warehouses may not have the same clout as the lobbyists who appear to oppose this bill, but these victims need our help.
“So if there truly are Senators that concerned with removing a bipartisan provision they’ve supported so many times in the past, they should offer an amendment to strike it and then stop blocking this human-rights bill. I’ve offered them a chance to do just that.
“And then, as an official with the Coalition Against Trafficking in Women put it: ‘Win or lose and move on.’
“But as it stands now, in her words, ‘Senate Democrats are choosing a phantom problem over real victims.’
“The White House needs to get involved here too.
“So far, the White House has barely lifted a finger to help us pass this legislation. That needs to change.
“I think the White House should do this because it’s the right thing to do. But if that’s not enough, they should also consider the consequences of Democrats making a historic mistake.
“If Democrats actually vote to filibuster help for the oppressed victims of modern slavery, the American people will not forget it.”
Related Issues: Combating Sex Trafficking, Defending Life, Senate Democrats