Senate Republicans have clearly decided of late to slip unrelated language into drafts of proposed bills moving through the legislative process.

This handy tactic can be used to make sure lawmakers have a hard time passing measures that they actually support. In the worst-case scenario, the technique can bring Capitol Hill to a standstill. In other instances, it can simply stall the progress of an otherwise uncontroversial bill, which is what occurred Tuesday, according to The Huffington Post:

The Justice for Victims of Trafficking Act, introduced by Sen. John Cornyn (R-Texas), creates a fund to help victims by using fees charged to traffickers. It easily passed the Senate Judiciary Committee with bipartisan support late last month.

But Democrats learned this week that the legislation contains Hyde Amendment language, which restricts federal funding for abortion and other health care services. They’re vowing to hold up the entire bill until the controversial provision is removed.

“These provisions, my caucus did not know about,” Senate Minority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) told reporters Tuesday. “The bill will not come off this floor as long as that [abortion] language is in it.”

Even Democrats on the Judiciary Committee said they had no idea the abortion provision was in the bill. Some suggested they had been misled.

Passing the human trafficking bill as it currently stands would effectively mean keeping the abortion restrictions in place for five more years, so it seems that lawmakers may have to go back to the drawing board.

–Posted by Kasia Anderson

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