Democrats Pull Bill After GOP Attaches Anti-Porn Amendment

Posted May 13, 2010 at 12:19pm

Updated: 3:22 p.m.

House Democrats pulled their science authorization bill from floor consideration after Republicans successfully attached an anti-pornography amendment to it that also gutted sections of the bill.

Republicans say they won a victory against spending, having approved an amendment slicing $42.5 billion in spending authorizations; Democrats say they were playing politics.

“They are not legislating. They are playing partisan political games,” said Kristie Greco, a spokeswoman for House Majority Whip James Clyburn (D-S.C.).

The Republican amendment included a prohibition on paying salaries to federal employees covered by the bill if they have been disciplined for watching pornography. That provision was not objectionable to Democrats, but other parts of the amendment gutted key parts of the bill and were unacceptable, Greco said.

Majority Leader Steny Hoyer (D-Md.) said the House would bring the bill back up next week.

The bill’s sponsors were livid.

“They used this incredibly important measure to try and set up attack ads for the next campaign,” Rep. Brian Baird (D-Wash.) said. “It’s absurd, it’s specious and it’s disgusting, and those are the nicest things I can say about it.”

Science and Technology Chairman Bart Gordon (D-Tenn.) noted with dismay that Republicans had used a similar tactic last week, shoehorning in substantive changes to a “cash for caulkers” bill on the back of an anti-sex offender provision. Gordon pre-emptively included that provision this week, only to have Republicans dream up another sexually charged provision. “How low will they go? I guess we’ll find out.”

Gordon said they are setting a bad precedent that could come back to haunt them when they return to the majority.

Gordon also defended some of the items the Republican motion deleted from the bill, including loan guarantees for small businesses and a research and development program in the Department of Energy, and he appealed to the business coalition backing the bill, including the U.S. Chamber of Commerce and the National Association of Manufacturers, to punish Republicans and push harder to pass the bill.

But House Minority Leader John Boehner (R-Ohio) cheered, saying they had forced Democrats to pull a “bloated” bill from the House floor.

Boehner said the Republican motion was straightforward. “It said that spending on the government programs in the bill shouldn’t rise by double-digit levels, that government employees caught looking at online pornography on government computers can be fired, and that military recruiters should be able to talk to students on college campuses. What part of that do Democratic leaders object to?

“Let’s give them the benefit of the doubt. Let’s assume they aren’t standing up for government employees looking at pornography on the taxpayers’ time. Let’s assume they think military recruiters should be allowed on college campuses. That means they pulled the bill entirely because they wanted to spend more of your money. Think about that.”