House passes bill to block porn from feds' computers
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The House approved legislation early Thursday morning that includes a provision to create guidelines for prohibiting access to pornography on federal government computers.

The measure, authored by Rep. Mark Meadows (R-N.C.), is part of an underlying package the House passed on a vote of 241-181 to establish various government oversight reforms.

“It’s kind of ridiculous that we have to legislate this, but it is such a pervasive problem in our work on the Oversight and Government Reform Committee,” said the panel’s chairman, Rep. Jason ChaffetzJason ChaffetzElijah Cummings, Democratic chairman and powerful Trump critic, dies at 68 House Oversight panel demands DeVos turn over personal email records The Hill's Morning Report - Presented by JUUL Labs - Trump attack on progressive Dems draws sharp rebuke MORE (R-Utah).

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Chaffetz offered an example of an employee at the Environmental Protection Agency that was found to be watching hours' worth of explicit material per day on a government-issued computer at work.

“We have heard numerous examples of this problem,” Chaffetz added.

The proposal would, however, provide an exemption for accessing pornography if it’s necessary for a government investigation.

Democrats largely voted against the underlying legislative package due to concerns with other provisions they feared would curtail government employees’ due process rights.

They noted that the language reflects a part of the 2014 law to reform practices at the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA). The Justice Department said earlier this year that it would not defend that statute, which was meant to expedite firings of VA officials, against a constitutional challenge.

The measures opposed by Democrats would expedite removal procedures for senior executives and make firing decisions final if an administrative judge doesn’t act to change them within 21 days. Senior executives would only be able to appeal an agency's decision after they are removed.

“This legislation is a mishmash of several bills that would damage employee rights, weaken public health and safety, and do little, if anything, to advance government reform,” said Rep. Elijah Cummings (Md.), the top Democrat on the House Oversight Committee.

Republicans, meanwhile, argued the provision would make it easier to remove employees found to have engaged in misconduct.

“To be clear, there are many in the federal workforce, including senior executives, who are hardworking public servants,” said Rep. Tim Walberg (R-Mich.). “However, as we have seen repeatedly in hearings before our committee, there are also bad actors who have grossly abused their position.”

In its veto threat of the bill, the Obama administration also expressed opposition to additional provisions that would prohibit any agency from proposing or finalizing any so-called “midnight rules” issued between Election Day and the next president’s inauguration on Jan. 20.

“They would arbitrarily prohibit the issuance of key rules and thus prevent the implementation of laws passed by the Congress through otherwise lawful, well-justified, and beneficial regulations, and would also subject the rulemaking process to additional, unnecessary judicial review provisions,” a statement of administration policy reads.