Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R., Ky.) is delaying a vote on the confirmation of Loretta Lynch as attorney general in order to pressure Senate Democrats to drop their filibuster of an unrelated human trafficking bill.
“We have to finish the human trafficking bill,” McConnell said on CNN. “The Loretta Lynch nomination comes next.”
Senate Democrats are blocking debate on a human trafficking bill, because they claim they didn’t know that it contains Hyde Amendment language stipulating the bill cannot provide funding for abortions.
“When we offered them an opportunity to offer an amendment to change that, they said: ‘No, we don’t want an amendment. We don’t want to change it by a vote of the Senate. We just want to block the bill,’” Senator John Cornyn (R., Texas) said last week. “And that’s what, unless something changes between now and the time we vote on cloture on the bill, is going to happen. Because they don’t want to amend the bill.”
That’s the same tactic that Democrats used to kill the Department of Homeland Security appropriations bill in order to avoid taking a vote on House-passed language targeting President Obama’s executive orders on immigration, with a tweak: Democrats allowed the debate on the human-trafficking bill to begin, but they won’t offer an amendment during the debate to get rid of the language they oppose. Lacking the votes to pass such an amendment, they are filibustering the vote to end debate and demanding that McConnell strip out the Hyde language. McConnell didn’t use the Lynch vote as a weapon in the DHS fight, though, perhaps in order to avoid increasing the likelihood that DHS funding would lapse on February 27.
Senator Ted Cruz (R., Texas) tried to block Lynch’s confirmation vote in February, during the fight over providing funding for Obama’s executive amnesty, but some of his colleagues disagreed and McConnell said she would “absolutely” get a vote.
Note: This post has been updated since initial publication.