Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

After Long Delay, Senate OKs Trafficking Bill

Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

After Long Delay, Senate OKs Trafficking Bill

Article excerpt

WASHINGTON * The Senate on Wednesday broke a logjam on a bill to fight human trafficking, and in doing so passed amendments on sexual assault and sex trafficking sponsored by St. Louis-area members of Congress.

The Justice for Victims of Human Trafficking Act passed 99-0, after being held up for weeks over disputes between Republicans and Democrats on language restricting abortions. Its passage opens the door for approval Thursday of Loretta Lynch as attorney general.

The human trafficking bill would provide financial aid for victims of human trafficking from fines on those convicted of sex trafficking. Democrats had opposed abortion-restricting language commonly put on spending bills because it was being applied to nontax funds.

A compromise that separated taxpayer money from money collected from fines, allowing only the latter to be used for health care, paved passage, but only after weeks of partisan finger-pointing that also held up the confirmation of Lynch, President Barack Obama's nominee to be the next attorney general.

The trafficking bill still needs approval from the House and Obama to become law.

The bill included an amendment by Sen. Mark Kirk, R-Ill., criminalizing the advertisement of sex with minors. It is similar to legislation sponsored by Rep. Ann Wagner, R-Ballwin, that passed the House in January. Wagner's bill has yet to be taken up by the Senate, but the passage of it in both houses albeit under different legislative vehicles means it has a good chance of becoming law.

Kirk's amendment passed the Senate, 97-2.

Wagner proclaimed on Twitter: "For too long, the federal government hasn't led in the effort to #EndTrafficking, but today, we change the status quo. #NotForSale."

An amendment co-sponsored by Sen. Claire McCaskill, D-Mo., passed 98-0. It closed a loophole that McCaskill said had enabled sex offenders convicted under the Uniform Military Code of Justice to avoid registering as sex offenders. …

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