As reported today, Loretta Lynch has been waiting more than five months for the Senate to confirm her nomination as U.S. attorney general.
She's held hostage to a wholly unrelated bill on child sex trafficking (S.178), which aims to fight this menace by prosecuting traffickers, fining them and using the fines to aid their victims. But even though the victims would be aided by funds raised from fines rather than taxes, Senate Republicans insist on subjecting these funds to the Hyde Amendment of 1977, which bars the use of federal funds for abortion except in cases of rape, incest or risk of the mother's life.
Since Democratic Senators refuse to accept this amendment and Republican Senators won't pass the bill without it, the bill is indefinitely stalled. And so long as it's stalled, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell won't take up the Lynch nomination.
Three weeks ago, I proposed a simple solution to this problem. For the benefit of those -- including legislators -- with very short attention spans, I recapitulate it here:
1. Let the Hyde Amendment apply to funds generated under this bill, as the Republicans insist.
2. Amend Section 4, subsection k4, paragraph D of the bill as follows:
"(D) provides an assurance that . . . a victim of child human trafficking shall not be required to collaborate with law enforcement officers to have access to any shelter or services provided with a grant under this section."
Read the revision below, with the would-be amendment in caps.
"(D) provides an assurance that . . . a victim of child human trafficking SHALL BE CONSIDERED IPSO FACTO A VICTIM OF RAPE AND shall not be required to collaborate with law enforcement officers to have access to any shelter or services provided with a grant under this section."
With this amendment, no child victim of sex trafficking could be denied funds for an abortion because those funds cannot be denied to a victim of rape.
If this amendment were moved, would Republican senators argue that a child coerced into prostitution -- forced to have sex again and again with any number of strange men -- has not been raped? Or that such a child should be "required to collaborate with law enforcement officers" to prove that he or she has been raped -- rather than freely choosing a life of soul-shredding prostitution?
The only way to break the impasse over this bill is to make every U.S. senator answer that question.
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