Last Wednesday the US Senate finally passed Senate Bill 178, the Justice for Victims of Trafficking Act. Democrats had held up the bill claiming that after unanimously passing the bill out of committee they suddenly discovered, to their horror, that the bill would not allow government funds to be used to pay for abortions.
The Hyde Amendment, which bars federal funds from being used for abortion, has been a boilerplate rider on appropriations bills for decades. We may not have reached a consensus in this country on extending equal protection under the law to about-to-be-born children, but it has been well established that an overwhelming majority of us can agree that the government ought not to be using taxpayer money to pay for the killing of those children. It has been so well established, in fact, that even Nancy Pelosi has expressed frustration with the Senate Democrats trying to pick a fight on this issue.
Republican Senate leadership, to their credit, finally found an issue they wouldn’t cave on. They had enough sense to see that filibustering a bill to help the victims of human trafficking, all in the name of taxpayer funded abortions, was probably a losing issue for the Democrats. In March Republican Senate leaders put the nomination of Loretta Lynch as attorney general on holduntil the Democrats would allow a vote on Senate Bill 178. Last week the Democrats relented and, of course, none of them had the guts to actually vote against the bill they had been filibustering for months so it passed 99-0.
Before the final vote on the bill, however, Senator Patrick Leahy (D-Vt.) introduced Leahy amendment no. 301 to remove the Hyde Amendment. This gave all the senators a chance to vote directly on whether or not they wanted taxpayer funded abortions. This was too much for several Democrats and Leahy’s amendment was soundly defeated. North Dakota’s Mary Kathryn “Heidi” Heitkamp, however, stuck with her party’s leadership and cast a vote in favor of Leahy’s amendment, directly voting in favor of government funding for abortion. This places the self-proclaimed “moderate” well to the left of Dorgan, Conrad, Pomeroy and several of her current Democrat colleagues in the Senate.
After the defeat of the Leahy amendment and the unanimous passage of the bill Debra Ness, a lobbyist for the pro abortion National Partnership For Women & Families, scowled “We pledge to continue this fight. The Hyde Amendment is callous, punishing and discriminatory and it must be repealed.” I think it is safe to say that by supporting taxpayer funded abortions Senator Mary Kathryn “Heidi” Heitkamp has locked up Debra Ness’ support as well as the support of the rest of the abortion lobby. I’m sure that will bring her a lot of money from those organizations. But I doubt she’ll want to talk about it much back here in North Dakota.