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Senate Deal on Trafficking Clears Way for Loretta Lynch Vote

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/ Source: NBC News

Republicans and Democrats in the Senate reached an agreement Tuesday on an anti-human-trafficking bill, clearing the way for a vote on President Barack Obama's nomination of Loretta Lynch for attorney general.

Majority Leader Mitch McConnell of Kentucky said he expected a vote on Lynch "in the next day or so."

The trafficking bill had been held up since February because it contained anti-abortion language opposed by Democrats.

The bill and Lynch's nomination passed committee 54 days ago, an unusually long delay for a vote on the nomination of an attorney general. McConnell linked Lynch's nomination to passage of the trafficking bill.

Last week, Obama called the delay "embarrassing."

"There are times where the dysfunction in the Senate just goes too far. This an example of it," the president told reporters on Friday.

Senate Democrats opposed the trafficking bill after they found language in the measure that would broaden prohibitions on using federal money for abortions. The measure seeks to create a victims’ fund using fees paid by human trafficking criminals.

A form of the abortion funding language, commonly known as the Hyde amendment, has been included in every appropriations bill since 1976.

Democrats said including the abortion funding language in the trafficking bill was an unprecedented expansion because it applied to funds that did not come from general taxpayer dollars. Republicans wanted to make sure the abortion funding restrictions remained in place.

As a compromise, lawmakers agreed to create a domestic trafficking victims' fund, which would be paid for by two sources: money collected from criminals participating in human trafficking and existing money previously appropriated by Congress.

— Frank Thorp