Senate Democrats voted yet again today to block a bill to help victims of sex trafficking because it contains pro-life language to ensure that funds intended for women victimized by human trafficking are not used to pay for abortions. This time Democrats blocked passage of the bill to help women on a 57-41 vote.
After voting twice on Tuesday to filibuster the sex trafficking bill because it prevents taxpayer funding of abortions, Democrats voted a third time today to continue blocking a bill to help women subjected to the horrors of sex trafficking. Senate Republicans, with the support of a few Democrats, were unable to get the 60 votes needed to end the filibuster and pass the legislation.
“Why are we threatening to kill this legislation to help the most vulnerable victims in America?” pro-life Sen. John Cornyn, the sponsor of the bill, asked on the Senate floor. “Instead of our helping hand, by killing this bill, as our friends across the aisle have done, we’re giving them a shrug of indifference”
Cornyn questioned why every Democrat on the Judiciary Committee voted for the exact same bill in committee but are now opposing it on the Senate floor after realizing that it would not fund abortions.
Yesterday, on both votes, the final vote was 55-43 against ending the filibuster and approving the cloture motion needed 60 votes to move the bill ahead to a vote. Only Democratic Senators Donnelly, Casey, Manchin, and Heitkamp voted with Republicans to end debate and support sex trafficking victims over abortion.
The legislation passed through the Senate Judiciary Committee without any problems but, now, pro-abortion activists are raising a stink about how funds for restitution for human trafficking victims won’t pay for abortions. The objection is offensive to victims of human trafficking and millions of girls and young women around the world who are victimized by it, putting abortion ahead of meeting their needs.
Senate Majority Whip John Cornyn, a pro-life Republican, said on the floor of the Senate this morning that he is shocked and dismayed that Democrats would put abortion funding ahead of helping women.
“Children are being abused and literally sexually assaulted while, apparently, some of our colleagues on the other side of the aisle have decided to try to make a political point,” he said. “To our colleagues who are filibustering this legislation, are you prepared to turn your back on the thousands of people living every day in bondage and who are desperately clinging to the hope that someone, someone will lend them a helping hand? Are you prepared to abandon these children and these other victims of human trafficking who deserve a roof over their head, someone to lean on, and somehow, some way to get a fresh start in life?”
Senate Republican Leader Mitch McConnell said that, as a result of their vote holding up the bill, Republicans will not allow a vote on pro-abortion Attorney General nominee Loretta Lynch. McConnell indicated his intention to keep the Senate focused on this human trafficking legislation until its successful completion. Further cloture votes to break the filibuster are expected throughout this week.
Leading pro-life groups hammered Democrats for their misplaced priorities.
Family Research Council President Tony Perkins said “this bill was created to rescue victims — not create more. If Planned Parenthood and other groups are so determined to give women access to abortion, why don’t they donate the funds to pay for the abortions?”
“In a stunning display of protecting abortion at all costs, the US Senate failed to defend victims – women and little girls – of sex trafficking,” said Students for Life of America president Kristan Hawkins. “The abortion lobby and their allies in the Senate should be ashamed of themselves. How dare they call themselves ‘pro-woman’ when they epically failed to help sex trafficking victims because they would rather force taxpayers to fund abortion. Today’s vote shows that like Planned Parenthood, Senate Democrats are for ‘Abortion. No Matter What’.”
“Young girls and women shouldn’t be sentenced to the horrors of human trafficking and sex slavery,” added Alliance Defending Freedom Senior Counsel Casey Mattox. “Withholding help for these girls and women in desperate need for any reason is tragic, but holding that help hostage because it doesn’t include abortion funding is downright wicked.”
Leading pro-life advocates heaped strong criticism on Senate Democrats for their steadfast loyalty to abortion above the interests of young women who become victims of the sex trade.
This isn’t the first time Democrats have put abortion ahead of helping human trafficking victims. The Obama Administration put abortion ahead of human trafficking twice — by denying a grant to the Catholic bishops to help victims because they wouldn’t promote abortion and by refusing to investigate how the Planned Parenthood abortion business covered up potential cases of sex trafficking.
The U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops had previously received a five-year $19 million grant to help victims of sex trafficking during the administration of pro-life President George W. Bush. Sensitive to how women are exploited in the sex industry, the Catholic bishops prohibit any subcontractors from using the funds to pay for or promote abortions. Instead, the Catholic bishops provide comprehensive case management services to survivors including medical and mental health services.
While the Obama administration extended the contract briefly, the bishops were notified that it would not be renewed. Instead, Obama officials awarded the grant to three other groups (Tapestri of Atlanta, Heartland Human Care Services of Chicago and the U.S. Committee for Refugees and Immigrants of Washington) — even though the bishops have helped more than 2,700 victims with the funding.
The House Oversight and Government Reform Committee held the hearing on the administration’s decision.
During the hearing, committee chairman Rep. Darrell Issa, a California Republican, said the decision violated the Obama administration’s “pledge to be the most transparent in history.”
“Unfortunately, today, we are presented with an example of how that goal is not being met and an opportunity to understand how the federal grant-making process has been politicized,” he said.
“The Committee on Oversight and Government Reform has begun an investigation into the process used by the Department of Health and Human Services Office of Refugee Resettlement to award grants that fund many types of care and services,” he told the hearing. “That investigation has uncovered many disturbing facts about the grant awards process, including: the most experienced and top rated national applicant was not selected, and lower-ranked organizations were somehow funded. The process was delayed for months while the agency struggled to find ways to inject new criteria into the process, and—of great concern—the judgment of experienced, career-level professionals was discarded when political appointees chose to overrule transparent decision-making.”
“These actions appear to constitute an abuse of discretion and undermine the integrity of the process, while potentially violating the spirit, if not the letter, of federal laws and regulations that prohibit discrimination based on religious beliefs,” Issa said.