WASHINGTON, D.C.—Only in the nation’s capital can an obstructionist cabal of Republican naysayers so successfully (and cynically) impede important legislation simply by attaching an amendment as absurdly useless as the one inserted Tuesday into the 2010 America COMPETES Reauthorization Act. Title this parody This Ain’t the Federal Tech Bill XXX.
So what sort of amendment could possibly have caused the Democratic leadership in the House to pull the $85 billion technology bill rather than see it passed with the last-minute additions? How about a provision that would have prevented federal agencies from paying “salaries to those officially disciplined for violations regarding the viewing, downloading, or exchanging of pornography, including child pornography, on a federal computer or while performing official government duties."
“In other words,” wrote Max Fisher on TheAtlanticWire.com, “it would have permanently banned from the federal government and its contractors anyone who viewed pornography on a government computer.”
The measure to essentially fire porn-watching federal employees is in response to the now ancient revelation that workers at the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) had watched porn on work computers (and at work) in 2008. A lawsuit also was recently filed by "superlawyer" Kevin D. Evans, on behalf of his law firm, Steese Evans & Frankel PC, seeking the names of said employees, claiming that because some of them are lawyers, they falsely billed the SEC for their porn-watching time.
The anti-porn-watching measure passed by a vote of 292-126, mostly because dozens of Democrats changed their votes rather than face the prospect of opposing an anti-pornography amendment during an election year. Now that’s some down low smart legislative maneuvering on the part of some low down and dirty Republicans.
But there’s more to the story. There were other provisions in the GOP “motion to recommit”—a parliamentary maneuver that gives the minority a final chance to amend legislation—that didn’t sit well with House Democrats, including a measure that stopped “all funding authorizations in two years as opposed to the five years contained in the original bill, abolished each new program established through the legislation, and froze all existing programs at their current funding levels until the federal budget is balanced,” according to The Hill.
Enraged by the maneuver, the House leadership pulled the entire bill from consideration, after which the bill’s author had some choice words for his GOP colleagues while neglecting to mention his own party’s complicity in the debacle.
"For anyone that is concerned about federal employees watching pornography, they just saw a pornographic movie. It's called; 'Motion to Recommit,'" Science Committee Chairman Rep. Bart Gordon (D-Tenn) said. "It was a cynical effort to undermine an important bill for my 9-year-old daughter, for your kids and your grandkids."
The COMPETES bill is expected back on the House floor next week, but no one knows how legislators plan on dealing with the anti-porn measure that was successfully attached because of Democrats who didn’t have the guts to call bull when the porn hit the fan.