A previously bipartisan U.S. Senate bill meant to combat human trafficking is now being blocked by Democrats over an abortion funding provision.
Senate Democrats have threatened to block Senate Bill 178 over a provision added by Republicans regarding abortion funding.
"Republicans cast this as a routine extension of the so-called Hyde Amendment, which bans the use of federal funds for abortions except in limited circumstances," reported Fox News.
"But Democrats said the legislation would mark a significant expansion since it applies to personal funds paid in fines."
Also called the Justice for Trafficking Victims Act, S. 178 was introduced by Republican Senator John Cornyn of Texas in January.
Meant as a bill to combat human trafficking, S. 178 accrued over 30 cosponsors from both parties in the weeks leading up to this week's planned vote.
"The bill imposes an additional penalty of $5,000 on any non-indigent person or entity convicted of a crime involving: (1) peonage, slavery, or trafficking in persons; (2) sexual abuse; (3) sexual exploitation and other abuse of children; (4) transportation for illegal sexual activity; or (5) human smuggling in violation of the Immigration and Nationality Act," read S. 178's summary.
"The bill expands the definition of 'child abuse' under the Victims of Child Abuse Act of 1990 to include human trafficking and the production of child pornography and expands criminal sanctions to include persons who patronize or solicit children for commercial sex acts (buyers)."
Regarding the Hyde Amendment addition, Democrat Senator Dick Durbin of Illinois announced his introduction of an amendment to remove the anti-abortion funding language.
"This language paves the way for political leaders in the future to interfere even more with a woman's basic personal health decisions," stated Sen. Durbin.
In response, Republican Majority leader Sen. Mitch McConnell has announced that the Senate must vote on S. 178 with its language or else he will hold up the vote for Loretta Lynch.
A nominee for U.S. Attorney General, Lynch is expected to replace the outgoing Attorney General Eric Holder and has been widely complimented for her legal experience.
"To get their vote on Lynch, Democrats will have to get off of the trafficking bill. And, so far, Republicans aren't showing any willingness to remove the controversial abortion language," reported the National Journal.