Anti-human trafficking legislation is stalled in the United States Senate, and that frustrates South Dakota’s representation in Washington, DC. Democrats in the US Senate blocked debate again Wednesday over one provision in the bill.
Legislation in the United States Senate establishes a fund to help victims of sex trafficking. Money from fines on convicted traffickers would support it. The bill includes language that stops the dollars from being used on abortions except for rape, incest, or to protect the life of a woman.
The amendment is the reason Senate Democrats say they aren’t voting on the bill. US Senator John Thune says the amendment is a standard many lawmakers support.
"It’s policy that’s been in place for 40 years, policy that Democrats voted on as recently as last year," Thune says. "In fact, 55 Senate Democrats voted for the same language last year in a spending bill, but they decided to blow up the anti-human trafficking bill over this provision, this Hyde amendment language which is included in the bill, which, by the way, they should have known about because the bill was filed in January. It was marked up in February. It’s a 68-page bill, and there have been months now for people to look at it."
Thune says this bill should have support from both parties.
Congresswoman Kristi Noem says legislation against sex trafficking drew bipartisan support in the US House chamber.
"The fact that it is hung up over there is unacceptable to me," Noem says. "They really need to work past the issues that they have and get it to the president’s desk, because every day that we lose getting this bill signed into law is a day we aren’t protecting kids and we’re not giving our law enforcement officers the tools that they need to stop the perpetrators of this industry."
Noem says she’s disheartened that the bill is stalled in the Senate, but she’s hopeful lawmakers will pass the measure.