Senate Republicans and Democrats have agreed on a slightly modified version of an anti-human-trafficking bill, allowing the bill, had Democrats had been filibustering for months, to get a vote.
Democrats had argued that the bill contained an unprecedented ban on the use of its funds — which aren’t tax revenues, but instead federal dollars collected in fines from taxpayers — for abortion. It doesn’t appear that the original language represented a practical departure from congressional precedent regarding federal funding of abortion in the first place, but Democrats worried about the legal and political precedent set.
The final version of the bill has been tweaked so that the bill cannot provide federal funding for abortion, the outcome Republicans wanted, while it satisfies Democrats because it includes no new sorts of prohibitions on federal abortion funding. (Which, because of things like Obamacare and Medicaid, are not always watertight, but certainly were not weakened or changed by the deal struck today.)
The other important news: Senate majority leader Mitch McConnell had refused to allow a vote on attorney general nominee Loretta Lynch until the trafficking bill made it out of the Senate. Now that that’s happened, she will apparently come up for a vote, and a sufficient number of Republicans have agreed to vote to confirm her.
This will disappoint a number of conservatives who believed — and I’m sympathetic to this view, as are NR’s editors — that Lynch should never be confirmed because she has expressed support for President Obama’s November executive amnesty. Alas, while McConnell delayed the vote on Lynch for more than six months, much longer than an opposing party usually delays a presidential nominee, it appears he isn’t willing to respond to the president’s unprecedented power grab with unprecedented measures of his own.
UPDATE: The third paragraph above has been modified to reflect more accurately the way Democrats and Republicans settled their dispute.