Attorney General nominee Loretta Lynch is facing a new obstacle to being confirmed by the Senate, as Republicans say they won't set up a vote for her until Democrats first agree to finish up work on legislation that they have opposed because it includes anti-abortion language.
Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) said initially that he would allow a vote on Lynch this week. But on Sunday, he said those plans have changed, and that instead he would look to force the Democrats to accept anti-abortion language in a bill aimed at helping victims of human trafficking.
"I had hoped to turn to her next week, but if we can't finish the trafficking bill, she will be put off again," he said on CNN. "They need to come to grips with this."
McConnell's move is his second attempt to try to win concessions from Democrats by tying two issues together. Last month, he tried to force Democrats to negotiate changes to President Barack Obama's immigration action, by trying to take up a House bill to fund the Department of Homeland Security that would have defunded Obama's plans.
A House-Senate negotiation had the potential to create an agreement that might have put limits on Obama's immigration proposal, but Democrats didn't budge, and Republicans eventually gave in and passed a "clean" DHS bill.
McConnell is hoping to do better this time, by saying the Senate can't move to Lynch until Democrats agree to move ahead with the human trafficking bill. McConnell seems to be in a much better position, as Democrats have previously approved similar language that prevents public money from being used to fund abortions.
"They all voted for the very same language in a bill in December," he said of Democrats. "This is boilerplate language that's been in the law for almost 40 years that they all voted for three months ago in another bill."
Democrats have admitted that they didn't notice the language the first time around, but have said now that they see it, they don't like it and it must be removed. McConnell says position is just the latest example of Democrats refusing to let the Senate run the way it should run, by offering amendments and finding compromises.
He said Democrats' refusal to allow the trafficking bill to advance is the same tactic Democrats used in the DHS bill, which they also refused to negotiate.
"The Democrats are acting the same way in the minority [as] they did in the majority," he said. "They don't seem to like to vote."
While McConnell's move is clearly aimed at forcing Democrats to cooperate, he cast it as a simple reality of the schedule that will get busier this month.
"We need to finish this human trafficking bill that came out of the Judiciary Committee unanimously," he said. "That's the next item."
"We need to finish that so we have time to turn to the attorney general, because the next week we'll be doing a budget, and the next two weeks after that Congress is not in session," he added.