Updated 5:18 p.m. | Legislation to combat human trafficking appears sure to die on the Senate floor.
Senate Minority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., reiterated Wednesday that the bill will not get through the Senate without the removal of language that would apply the Hyde Amendment, which bars federal funding for abortion services, to the bills fee-funded programming.
“Everybody can debate how that got in there, OK?” Reid told CQ Roll Call. “I believe that we should pass this human trafficking [bill]. I support this legislation, but we’re not going to have an abortion provision in the bill.”
Cornyn signaled on the floor that a cloture vote is expected on a bid to limit debate Thursday, although that would not be the regular order. Either way, it appears there’s no path to 60 votes.
Reid was asked whether Democrats would be willing to offer an amendment to try to strip out the provision applying the anti-abortion language to the bill, but he said he wouldn’t support moving forward with any amendments until Cornyn and the Republicans agree to strip the language.
“Then we’re happy to debate all the amendments they want … including Vitter’s stupid amendment,” Reid said.
Sen. David Vitter, R-La., wants to offer an amendment that would eliminate birthright citizenship in an effort to combat what’s been called “birth tourism.”
“It’s astounding that we’re allowing foreign citizens to exploit the loopholes of our immigration system in this manner, and Congress has the obligation to stop it,” Vitter said in a statement issued Tuesday. “This practice comes down to a fundamental misunderstanding of the 14th Amendment, and we can stop the massive problem with some simple clarification.”
Reid’s staff decried the amendment, saying that it also would make it so that the children born in the United States to longtime U.S. residents who are undocumented would no longer receive citizenship rights.
Vitter responded to the minority leader in a statement to CQ Roll Call.
“I’ve received some nice compliments for my legislative work. But Harry Reid calling my effort to end birthright citizenship abuse ‘Vitter’s stupid amendment’ is right up there with the highest of compliments, considering the source,” Vitter said. “Thank you, Harry, for building attention and credibility on this important issue.”
Cornyn subsequently told reporters that he had no interest in taking out the Hyde Amendment language, though he said Democratic lawmakers were free to offer an amendment (although it would not be likely to prevail in a GOP-led Senate).
Correction 4:52 p.m. An earlier version of this post misstated David Vitter’s party affiliation.
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