Senate Democrats sent a strong message to Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell by refusing to back down on their demand that anti-abortion language be removed from the human trafficking bill.
In remarks on the Senate floor, Democratic Minority Leader Sen. Harry Reid (D-NV) said:
The most important question for a party in power is simply: “Can you govern?” Or in other words, “Can you steer this ship? Can you pilot this great nation of ours?” We are just over 100 days into this Republican-controlled Congress, and it is already clear that the Republican Leader and his side are not up to the task.
For evidence, look no further than Republican’s botched handling of the human trafficking bill before the Senate. The Majority Leader and the Assistant Majority Leader took a good, bipartisan piece of legislation and steered it right into the rocks.
What has taken place on the direction of human trafficking is an effort to obfuscate, to hide the real purpose of the legislation. We all agree that human trafficking should stop. With this legislation we have before us is a step in the right direction and we want to support that legislation and our friend the republican leader says all ire complaining about is a sentence or so. That’s why people spend all these years going to law school and taking these contracts courses. That’s why my friend, Assistant Republican Leader who served as a trial court judge, a Texas Supreme Court justice, he dealt during his entire career with lawyers coming to him talking about sentences in a contract or sentences on a piece of legislation. That’s what this is all about. And we should eliminate those sentences that here allow Hyde to be expanded to non-taxpayer money. We cannot allow that to happen.
It’s over 100 days into this Congress, we should move forward and get this bill done and it’s time on this legislation Republicans right the ship. If human trafficking legislation is any indication, Republicans haven’t a desire to govern dependably and I think that’s unfair. I hope, I hope that this cloture vote will be defeated. Perhaps at that time people will finally come to the realization we’re willing to do whatever needs to be done to change this language so that Hyde language does not apply to taxpayer dollars.
Like I said, we’re just over 100 days into this Congress. It’s not too late. There is time for Republicans to right this ship, if they want to. But if the human trafficking legislation is any indication, Republicans haven’t any desire to dependably govern.
Mitch McConnell and the Senate Republicans are trying to prove that they can strong arm their agenda past the Democrats. For Republicans, this legislative battle is about demonstrating their power. Democrats don’t want to set the precedent of agreeing to anti-choice language that gets unnecessarily attached to legislation. Senate Democrats have a legitimate complaint about what Sen. McConnell has done to this piece of legislation.
Reid pointed out in his remarks that Democrats have offered four different potential solutions, but Republicans have rejected them all. Senate Republicans are tanking their own legislation by turning it into a partisan power play, Republicans have demonstrated that they aren’t interested in coming to the middle and governing. The difference is that it is Mitch McConnell’s job as Majority Leader that is on the line.
McConnell has grown increasingly desperate to demonstrate that he can lead a majority that is capable of governing. Democrats are well aware of McConnell’s desperation, which is why they aren’t backing down. Pushing is coming to shove for Sen. McConnell, and he has to make a decision. Either he is going to come to the middle and govern, or he is going to go down with the sinking Republican ship.
One thing is certain. Democrats aren’t going to be strong-armed, and they are not going to back down.
Mr. Easley is the founder/managing editor and Senior White House and Congressional correspondent for PoliticusUSA.Jason has a Bachelor’s Degree in Political Science. His graduate work focused on public policy, with a specialization in social reform movements.
Awards and Professional Memberships
Member of the Society of Professional Journalists and The American Political Science Association