Majority Leader Mitch McConnell was dealt another defeat by Senate Democrats as he was forced to abandon his attempt to add expanded anti-abortion language to the human trafficking bill.
The agreement calls for funding a domestic trafficking victims’ fund with federal dollars appropriated by Congress and money collected from criminal offenders, preserving the prohibition on federal funds being used to pay for abortion services but not expanding it.
Senate Democratic Leader Harry Reid (Nev.), who helped hash out the deal, claimed victory.
“After weeks of stalling on the bipartisan human trafficking bill our Republican colleagues have agreed not to expand the scope of the Hyde language,” he said.
Senate Republicans are trying to sell the agreement on the language as bipartisan governing, but in reality this was a defeat for McConnell. The Senator from Kentucky tried to prove that he could force his agenda down the throat of Democrats, but his power play failed miserably. Democrats never budged. With pressure growing on Senate Republicans to demonstrate that they can govern, they had no choice but to look for a face-saving escape route out of their own mess.
McConnell intentionally picked this fight with Senate Democrats by adding abortion language to the Senate legislation that wasn’t in the House-passed bill. The senator made things worse on himself with the decision to double down by holding a final vote on Loretta Lynch’s nomination to be the next attorney general hostage.
The compromise deal is a big win for Senate Democrats. It also proves that the real power in the Senate rests on the Democratic side. Nothing will get done in the Senate without the support of some Democrats.
Mitch McConnell tried to bully Senate Democrats, and the result was a defeat for the increasingly incompetent looking Senate Majority Leader.