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GOP threatens AG vote over alleged abortion rider in bill

Sen. Mitch McConnell warns that he would postpone a Senate vote on Loretta Lynch's confirmation for the attorney general post if Democrats don't pass Republican-backed anti-trafficking legislation.

"We can't pass the trafficking bill right now," McConnell told CNN in an interview. "And I wanted to hold a vote on the attorney general but if I can't get this bill through first then I'm going to have to delay the confirmation vote."

Democrats are blocking the passage of the human trafficking bill, which would increase penalties for sex and child labor smugglers, because they say the legislation has anti-abortion language folded into its proposals.

When pressed, McConnell reiterated that "it's not a threat."

"We need to finish it. It's on the Senate floor now," the majority leader said. "Then we have the budget."

McConnell pointed the finger at the party across the aisle for the slowing of Lynch's confirmation process.

"Democrats are acting now in the minority the way that they were in the majority. They don't like to vote!" the top Republican senator said. "The language they are now calling offensive was in the bill when it passed unanimously out of committee.

"If they want to turn to the attorney general," McConnell continued, "then it is important that we turn to this human trafficking bill, which is important for our country."

The contested bill, called the Justice for Victims of Trafficking Act and authored by Sen. John Cornyn, R-Texas, was initially sponsored by a bipartisan spate of legislators. While the act does not specifically mention abortion, Senate Democrats are accusing the opposing party for sneaking in language that would effectively apply the Hyde amendment, an existing ban on using taxpayer money for abortion purposes, to the newly created Domestic Trafficking Victims' Fund.

CNN's Dana Bash tried to clarify the majority leader's stance, asking pointedly, "Unless Democrats give in, then the Lynch nomination is not going to happen next week?"

"We have to finish the human trafficking bill first," McConnell stated. "Then we'll turn to the attorney general." The Kentucky senator added that he himself is "undecided" on whether he'll vote for Lynch.

After the 2014 midterm elections, when Republicans swept a majority of their party into both chambers, McConnell famously promised that a GOP-controlled Congress would function without gridlock.

Attorney General Eric Holder announced his resignation from the post in September of last year.

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