WASHINGTON — For a second week, the Senate remained locked in a partisan dispute over abortion policy that has kept the chamber from advancing legislation to combat human trafficking.

WASHINGTON — For a second week, the Senate remained locked in a partisan dispute over abortion policy that has kept the chamber from advancing legislation to combat human trafficking.


At issue is a provision that would prohibit funds raised through fees and fines from being used for abortion services. Known as the Hyde amendment, it has been used since 1976 on spending bills to keep federal tax dollars from being used for abortion.


Senate Democrats initially overlooked the Hyde language but objected to it when the bill arrived on the Senate floor and have blocked the bill from moving forward.


"This bill will not come off this floor as long as that language is in the bill," said Senate Minority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev.


Senate Republicans have held a series of procedural roll call votes that have simply confirmed the stalemate.


Sen. John Cornyn, R-Texas, the author of the legislation, accused Democrats of taking the bill hostage.


"Abandoning the Hyde amendment would be a dramatic mistake and something I am not willing to be part of," he said.


The Senate has held five procedural roll call votes to advance the legislation but have each time fallen short of the 60-vote majority needed.


The most recent attempt failed 56-42. Sens. John Boozman, R-Ark., and Tom Cotton, R-Ark., voted to advance the bill.


House disapproves labor regulation


The House voted along party lines to disapprove of a recently adopted National Labor Relations Board rule that would shorten the timeframe for union elections.


Republicans claimed the rule would make it more difficult for employees to make an informed decision about joining a labor union by limiting the time available for them to fully consider the issue. Union elections are, on average, held 38 days after a petition is filed with the labor board. The NLRB change would shrink that to as few as 11 days.


"Workers need time to decide what is best for them and their families, and they shouldn’t be pressured or rushed," said House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy, R-Calif. "Ambush elections don’t help workers; instead, they bully workers to accept unionization as fast as possible. That is not pro-worker; that is pro-union — and there is a big difference."


Democrats argued in favor of the NLRB rule, saying it would improve a broken system that has enabled employers to delay union elections at the expense of their employees.


"Bad actors can use frivolous litigation to stall an election for months, even years," said Rep. Robert Scott, D-Va. "Election delays can provide opportunities for unscrupulous employers to engage in threats, coercion, and intimidation of workers."


The House voted 232-186 to disapprove the rule — as the Senate has already done — sending the resolution to President Barack Obama for his signature. The White House has said Obama would veto the bill.


Reps. Steve Womack, R-Rogers, Bruce Westerman, R-Hot Springs, French Hill, R-Little Rock, and Rick Crawford, R-Jonesboro, voted to disapprove the rule.


House votes to restrict EPA rule making


Defying another veto threat, House Republicans approved a bill that would prohibit the Environmental Protection Agency from issuing regulations based on scientific research that cannot be verified or reproduced by independent analysis.


Republicans, who pushed the measure, say it is needed to keep EPA from using so-called "secret" science to issue regulations.


"The EPA contracts out scientific research to third parties whom the EPA relies upon to justify its regulations, but if independent scientists ask for details, the agency claims that it doesn’t have the data, and so results cannot be verified," said Rep. Lamar Smith, R-Texas. "This is ‘trust me’ science, which should make us suspicious."


Not so, said Democrats.


"In all of the regulatory actions the EPA takes, they publish exhaustive information about exactly what science the Agency is relying upon to establish the scientific underpinnings of the regulations," said Rep. Eddie Bernice Johnson, D-Texas. "What my Republican colleagues are calling "secret" is actually confidential, personal health information from research study participants."


Johnson claimed Republicans are seeking to block EPA from using any public health studies so that the agency will be unable to justify its protections for public health.


The House approved the bill, 241-175. Womack, Westerman, Hill and Crawford voted for it.