Anti-porn provision sinks Dem jobs bill

House Democrats had to scrap their only substantive bill of the week Thursday after Republicans won a procedural vote that substantively altered the legislation with an anti-porn clause.

Democrats had labeled their COMPETES Act -- a bill to increase investments in science, research and training programs -- as their latest jobs bill. It was the only non-suspension bill Democrats brought up all week.

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But the Republican motion to recommit the bill -- a parliamentary tactic that gives the minority one final chance to amend legislation -- contained language prohibiting federal funds from going "to 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."

That provision scared dozens of Democrats into voting with Republicans to approve the motion to recommit. After it became clear the GOP motion was going to pass, dozens of additional Democrats changed their votes from "no" to "yes." In the end, 121 Democrats voted with Republicans -- only four fewer than the number of Democrats who voted with their party.

But because of additional changes contained in the motion, Democrats decided to pull the bill from consideration immediately following the passage of the motion to recommit.

The GOP motion also 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.

Democrats accused Republicans of playing politics with a bill designed to create jobs through investments in research and development.

"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 and bill author 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."

"It's absurd," Rep. Brian Baird (D-Wash.) said. "It's specious, and it's disgusting. And those are the nicest things I can say about it."

During a colloquy with House Republican Whip Eric Cantor (R-Va.), Majority Leader Steny Hoyer (D-Md.) said Democrats would bring the COMPETES Act back to the floor next week.