Senate Democrats successfully filibustered a bill to crack down on human trafficking Tuesday, setting up a standoff between Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell and Minority Leader Harry Reid over the president’s attorney general nominee.
The final vote was 56-42; 60 votes were needed to invoke cloture and end the Democratic filibuster. Four Democrats, Sens. Joe Manchin (WV), Joe Donnelly (IN), Heidi Heitkamp (ND) and Bob Casey (PA) voted to move forward.
McConnell has vowed to only allow a vote on Loretta Lynch, President Obama’s nominee, after the Senate finishes consideration of the human trafficking bill.
“We have to finish the human trafficking bill,” McConnell said Sunday on CNN. “The Loretta Lynch nomination comes next.”
Democrats filibustered the human trafficking bill even though several top Democrats voted for it in committee a month ago. In explaining their new opposition to the measure, Democrats have cited “Hyde Amendment” language found in many other statutes that prevents federal funding for abortions, saying that they did not read the bill closely enough to know the provision was included.
Meanwhile, two other Republican moderates signaled they will vote against Lynch if her nomination comes to the floor for a vote on the merits. Four Republicans have signaled support for her, meaning that she would need Vice President Joe Biden to break a 50-50 tie if they were the only Republicans to vote for her nomination.