Byline: Mike Lillis
The House will vote Monday to send an anti-human-trafficking bill to President Obama's desk, House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.) announced Friday.
The legislation had been held up for weeks in the Senate as the parties haggled over a GOP abortion provision, a delay that also left in limbo the nomination of Loretta Lynch for U.S. attorney general.
After negotiators reached a compromise on the abortion language, the bill flew through the Senate on April 22 in a 99-0 vote, and Lynch was confirmed a day later.
The House-passed version of the bill is sponsored by Reps. Ted Poe (R-Texas) and Carolyn Maloney (D-N.Y.), both of whom have been urging GOP leaders for weeks to bring the Senate measure to the floor amid rumors that some Republicans wanted to amend it.
Monday's vote, which will come under a suspension of the rules that doesn't allow amendments, is indication that GOP leaders will not go that route.
The bill is expected to pass easily with bipartisan support, and Obama is expected to sign it into law.
Sponsored by Sen. John Cornyn (R-Texas), the majority whip, the legislation increases fines on sex traffickers, creates a fund to help trafficking victims and provides new funding to train healthcare workers, child welfare officials and law enforcement officers who confront the issue.
It also expands investigators' powers to look into a suspects' communications and hikes penalties on those who solicit commercial sex, holding them and traffickers equally accountable.
The House had passed a similar measure earlier in the year, but the Senate bill adopts much more expansive reforms, including the victims' fund.
Senate Democrats balked at Cornyn's initial proposal, accusing Republicans of trying to expand the Hyde Amendment, which bars federal funding for abortion services.
The conflict was resolved after Cornyn and Sen. Patty Murray (D-Wash.) negotiated a deal to split the victims' fund in two. One pool, created by trafficker fines, cannot fund victims' healthcare services; the second pool will come from community health center funds, which are already subject to the Hyde restrictions.