WASHINGTON -- A staffer in Sen. Amy Klobuchar's office knew about the controversial abortion language stuck into a bipartisan bill to help victims of human trafficking before her boss voted on it but failed to say anything, a Senate spokeswoman acknowedged in an Associated Press story.
A bill supported by pretty much everyone in the U.S. Congress that helps victims of trafficking is stuck in a stalemate because Democrats say they "discovered" language last week that restricts federal funds for abortions and the Plan B pill tucked in the bill.
It has been unclear why scores of staffers for more than a dozen senators, as well as the minority staff of the Senate Judiciary Committee, didn't see the language. It was tucked in the bill under a reference to an appropriations bill passed last year. The AP story says a Klobuchar staffer "had seen the language" before the committee voted, but the aide "did not inform the senator."
Klobuchar told the Star Tribune last week she didn't know it was in the legislation when she voted for it on the Judiciary Committee in February. Franken echoed her sentiment, but went farther saying he regretted not seeing the language and regretted his vote for it.
What's still unclear why no one else -- beyond the unnamed Klobuchar staffer -- saw the language.
The staff mess up may explain Klobuchar's low-key approach to the fight since it started.
While other Democrats, including Senate Minority Leader Harry Reid and Washington Sen. Patty Murray, have been stomping the halls and making floor speeches about Republicans' approach to the abortion language, Klobuchar has said nothing.
She is the lead Democrat on the Cornyn bill and her own Safe Harbor bill is being held up in the stalemate as well. Klobuchar has long prominently talked about how important human trafficking legislation is to her agenda. Klobuchar stood on the Senate floor for three hours Thursday and read from the book "Half the Sky" by Nicholas Kristoff about trafficking. She didn't mention her staff's blunders.
Klobuchar and Franken have both voted twice to block the bill with the abortion language.
"There shouldn't be disagreement about this," Klobuchar said on the floor. "I am hopeful that at some point here and I hope it's today, we're going to turn the corner."