Although Senate Democrats admit they missed language relating to federal funding of abortions in the anti-human trafficking bill, Republicans charge that the same or similar language is all over numerous pieces of legislation supported by Democrats in the past.
The bill, which passed unanimously out of committee in January but is now blocked by Senate Democrats over abortion funding language, contains a measure that restricts federal funding of abortion, as per existing law known as the Hyde Amendment, which was unanimously supported in the 2014 Consolidated Appropriations Act (H.R.3547).
Don Stewart, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell’s spokesman, told The Daily Caller that Democrats never objected to the measure in Committee back in January and as the bill was approaching a vote last week, Senate Minority Leader Harry Reid raised an issue with the abortion funding language.
“They want to protect the ability to spend money on abortions, which apparently as of today is more important than protecting kids from sex traffickers. It’s bizarre,” Stewart told The Daily Caller.
The legislation does not alter the Hyde Amendment, the Associated Press reported, but Democrats claim that “blocking passage of a sex trafficking measure designed to help children and women… The legislation makes no change in the existing law, known as the Hyde Amendment.”
According to reports, Democrats argue that placing the measure in the bill would make the Hyde amendment permanent, while Republicans say the Hyde measure is only applicable to victims’ fund for five fiscal years.
The Congressional Research Service (CRS) shows the language goes back over 40 years stating, “In addition to the temporary funding limitations contained in appropriation bills, abortion restrictions of a more permanent nature have been enacted in a variety of contexts since 1970.”
Legislation with such language includes: the Family Planning Services and Population Research Act of 1970, the Legal Services Corporation Act of 1974, the Pregnancy Discrimination Act, the Civil Rights Restoration Act of 1988, and the Civil Rights Commission Amendments Act of 1994.
Additionally, the Department of Defense appropriation measures and the State Children’s Health Insurance Program have Hyde-language abortion funding restrictions.