Senate nears votes on trafficking bill, Loretta Lynch

AP News
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Posted: Apr 20, 2015 6:47 PM

WASHINGTON (AP) — Key senators said Monday they're close to a deal on an anti-trafficking bill, potentially clearing the way for a vote to confirm President Barack Obama's attorney general.

Republican and Democratic senators said they are working to finalize language resolving a dispute over abortion that has hung up the bill to combat sex trafficking.

"We're still talking and I think we're getting closer, but we're not quite done yet," said Sen. John Cornyn, R-Texas. "I'm hoping for it to break any minute."

"We're close," said Sen. Patty Murray, D-Wash. "We've still got a few hurdles."

The deal looked likely to be announced on Tuesday, though it could still take some time for the legislation to get to final passage.

Republican leaders have refused to bring attorney general-designate Loretta Lynch up for a vote until that happens, leading Democrats to complain about the long delay, which Obama has called "embarrassing."

Lawmakers of both parties are eager to move forward on the trafficking bill, which had wide bipartisan support until Democrats said they noticed a provision in the bill barring money in a new victims' fund from going to pay for abortions in most cases. They claimed this amounted to an unacceptable expansion of existing prohibitions on federal funding for abortions.

Negotiations have centered on how to structure the victims' fund to satisfy Democrats' concerns, while reassuring Republicans that they are not relaxing existing prohibitions on abortion spending.