Breaking: Deal on stalled Senate human-trafficking bill clears way for Lynch vote

Surprised? Don’t be, as the confirmation vote for Loretta Lynch was never going to be stalled forever. Under pressure themselves, Democrats finally cut a deal on the human-trafficking bill to get the Lynch nomination completed:

“I’m glad we can say there is a bipartisan proposal that will allow us to complete action on this legislation so we can provide help to the victims who desperately need it,” Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) announced on the Senate floor.

“As soon as we finish the trafficking bill, as I’ve indicated for some time now, we’ll move to the president’s nominee for attorney general in the next day or so,” he added.

Democrats will spin this as a victory, but they caved on the use of revenue from the law’s fine structure for abortions:

After weeks of abortion-related stalling on the trafficking bill, which in turn has delayed Lynch, the solution turned out to be a fairly simple one. The handshake agreement on trafficking gives Republicans what they sought: assurances that none of the funds provided to trafficking victims will be used for abortions, under the Hyde amendment.

But Democrats also got what they wanted: A path forward without expanding the Hyde language. The fees collected from convicted traffickers will be used for legal services and other concerns but under the new language cannot be used for medical services. Separate money appropriated by Congress, and thus subject to Hyde, will then be used for medical services.

That means that the Hyde language is now unnecessary for the bill, since none of the revenue can be used for medical services at all of any kind. Those resources will have to come from appropriations instead, which already carry the Hyde language. It’s the same result through a different mechanism for Republicans, who wanted to make sure that the trafficking bill didn’t get used as a back door for federally funded abortions. Reid and the abortion lobby worked hard to open that path by demanding the removal of the Hyde language from the bill, but in the end they ended up with nothing at all.

That will allow the Senate to take up Lynch’s confirmation as Attorney General. Most whip counts published in the last few weeks have her winning the vote, but not by much. National Journal’s Sarah Mims says Lynch has 51 confirmed ayes, with another 13 Senators publicly undeclared. Don’t expect too many more Republicans to climb aboard the Lynch bandwagon, and there may still be a surprise or two on the way to confirmation. We’ll see.

Update: It’s worth noting that John Cornyn originally offered to direct all revenues from this bill into the general fund and then use appropriations to fund the services it authorizes, an offer that’s very similar to this compromise, and which Reid rejected outright.