The Corner

No, Jon Stewart, Senate Republicans Aren’t the Ones Blocking the Sex Trafficking Bill

When a Democratic minority obstructs routine Senate business in a bid to flex its political muscle, comedian Jon Stewart has but one option — keep blaming Republicans.

On Tuesday night’s Daily Show, Stewart ripped into the GOP leadership for engaging in “f*ckery” by holding up a bipartisan bill designed to combat human sex trafficking. Hapless Democrats, in contrast, were guilty of mere “dumbassery” by trusting Republicans wouldn’t add anti-abortion language to the legislation.

“It’s the same way nobody blames the bears in Grizzly Man for eating the delicious-looking meat sack who kept sticking his hands in their poop.” Stewart cracked. “‘Cause they’re bears!”

The comedian worked through his usual routine, slamming Mitch McConnell for ”bowing down to right-wing special interests” and lamenting bipartisan — but almost-entirely Republican — dysfunction on Capitol Hill.

The clip circulated widely through the left-wing media, with outlets like Talking Points Memo, Salon and Raw Story noting Stewart’s self-righteous fury with approval. But the comedian’s assertion — that Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell is the one blocking the Justice for Victims of Trafficking Act — simply isn’t true.

The bill, which unanimously passed the Senate Judiciary Committee earlier this year, included a provision called the Hyde Amendment. The amendment forbids the federal funding of abortions, and – far from being a special-interest giveaway – has been routinely added to appropriations bills since 1976.

While the trafficking act is not a technical appropriations bill, the legislation does provide a fund — and Republican lawmakers believed its inclusion would be non-controversial.

When the bill reached the Senate floor, however, Minority Leader Harry Reid decided to pick a fight. His Democratic colleagues on Judiciary suddenly claimed they’d been hoodwinked by their GOP counterparts, admitting they had failed to read the bill they’d voted for in committee.

And on Tuesday, Reid led Democrats in a filibuster of the bill, vowing to keep blocking its passage until the anti-abortion language is removed. He even prevented the Senate from voting on an amendment to strip the Hyde Amendment from the bill, knowing that vote would fail in the pro-life legislative body.

National Review’s Joel Gehrke explains that Reid is attempting “an experiment in obstruction” after successfully staring down Republicans over executive amnesty and funding the Department of Homeland Security. “Can Harry Reid force Republicans to back down on the Hyde Amendment, setting a precedent that one of the top legislative victories for pro-life activists is too controversial to put into routine bills?” he writes. “If the minority leader can do that, then who controls the Senate, really?”

By accusing Republican leadership of “bowing down to right-wing special interests” when the hold-up is actually caused by an unprovoked Democratic power grab, it’s Stewart — not Mitch McConnell — that is being “disingenuous.”

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