Hopes for passage of a popular bill to fight human trafficking were all but dashed Wednesday after the debate devolved into a partisan fight over restricting abortions.

What should have been an easy win turned into a blame game. Democrats say Republicans sneaked the abortion provision in; Republicans said Democrats should be paying closer attention.

Now, a bill that would create a $30 million victims fund and provide law enforcement tools to clamp down on human trafficking appears headed for defeat.

"All of a sudden, some of our colleagues woke up, I guess ... and said . . . they were outraged," said Sen. John Cornyn (R., Texas), the bill's author.

In addition to barring the use of taxpayer money for abortions, the disputed provision would block abortion funding from the fees that criminals pay into the victims fund. - Tribune Washington Bureau