GOP Kills Science Jobs Bill By Forcing Dems To Vote For Porn
Rep. Ralph Hall (R-TX), the ranking member of the House science committee, introduced a motion to recommit, a last-ditch effort to change a bill by sending it back to the committee with mandatory instructions.
In this case, Republicans included a provision that would bar the federal government from paying the salaries of employees who've been disciplined for viewing pornography at work.
To proceed with the bill and bring it to a final vote, Democrats would have had to vote against the motion to recommit, and against the porn ban.
But they didn't have the stomach for it, and 121 Democrats jumped ship and voted with Republicans to kill the bill.
"For anyone that is concerned about federal employees watching pornography, they just saw a pornographic movie. It's called; 'Motion to Recommit,'" Rep. Bart Gordon (D-TN) said. "It was a cynical effort to undermine an important bill for my 9-year-old daughter, for your kids and your grandkids."
The bill had passed the committee last month with bipartisan support, in a vote of 29 to 8.
"If at any point during the 48 hearings we've held on this bill, the Minority brought up their concerns with isolated incidents of federal employees viewing pornography, or if they had made an amendment in order during any of the three Subcommittee markups, the Full Committee Markup, or the Floor Consideration, I would have been happy to vote for that amendment," Gordon said in a press release after the vote.
"We're all opposed to federal employees watching pornography. That is not a question; but that's not what this was about," he went on. "The Motion to Recommit was about gutting funding for our science agencies."
Democrats pulled the bill off the floor after the motion passed and promised to introduce it again next week.
The bill -- a re-authorization of the 2007 COMPETES Act -- has been supported by interests usually seen as aligned with Republicans, including the U.S. Chamber of Commerce.
Hall did not immediately respond to a request for comment
Edit: The Atlantic Wire has more on what happened and why. An especially good summary on the motion to recommit is also there:
As a general matter, the rule was probably intended to provide an opportunity to dot an 'i' or cross a 't' that had been overlooked by the committee that had marked up the bill. In other words, it's always possible for someone to find some flaw in the language of a bill at the last moment and the 'motion to recommit' allows for last second corrections to be made. However, over time the minority in the House realized that the procedure could be used to kill a bill that could not be killed in any other way. For example, they could say that the bill is a very fine piece of legislation but it neglected to condemn child molestation and, also, to phase out the departments of Education and Commerce.
The majority party is then faced with the choice of voting in favor of child molestation or voting for the abolition of the departments of Education and Commerce. The normal response is to vote against child molestation and then pull the entire bill off the floor.