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Senate leaders reached an informal deal over abortion funding that paves the way for legislation to combat human trafficking and approve Attorney General nominee Loretta Lynch. The Senate has been ensnared in the dispute over the extension of the so-called Hyde Amendment since late March. Now it is expected to vote on the underlying bill and Lynch’s nomination this week, according to media reports.
CNN described the agreement over the abortion-restricting funding this way:
According to sources in both parties, the Murray-Cornyn deal pools two sources of funding to support victims of human trafficking, and each is subject to distinct restrictions.
One funding stream, from fines levied against sex traffickers, could be used for survivor services that do not include health care or medical services, like legal aid and law enforcement. That effectively bars the money from being used to fund abortions, but does not technically include the Hyde Amendment.
The latter funding stream, which comes from community health center funds included in the doc-fix bill President Barack Obama signed into law this week, is already subject to the Hyde Amendment. …
The deal was a rare legislative compromise on abortion that drew praise from both sides of the debate.
Cecile Richards, president of the Planned Parenthood Action Fund, used the announcement of the deal to praise Reid and Murray for preventing expansion of the Hyde Amendment.
"Thankfully, Sens. Reid and Murray and other women’s health champions held the line and today’s agreement prevents Hyde from being extended even further into other funding streams, and provides survivors of human trafficking with immediate access to needed health care services," Richards said in a statement.
And Marjorie Dannenfelser, president of the anti-abortion Susan B. Anthony List, said the group is "pleased" with the proposal.
"This deal ensures no money in the fund is used for abortion and that any funding for health services is subject to the longstanding Hyde amendment. It ensures taxpayers will not be in a position of facilitating human trafficking by keeping victims on the street," she said.
A leading Democratic senator took credit for coming up with a solution to the impasse, according to The Washington Times:
“I just knew it had a chance, because no one ever said it was impossible to do,” Ms. Klobuchar said outside the Senate chamber.
Planned Parenthood Action Fund, a pro-choice group, applauded the breakthrough, saying key Democrats “held the line” against an expansion of Hyde restrictions, while other pro-choice groups bemoaned the fact that Hyde language remained in the bill.
Senate Minority Leader Harry Reid, Nevada Democrat, boasted that he forced Republicans to back off their more expansive abortion restrictions, which he called a “pointless, contrived fight,” clearing the way for the deal.