How to Kill a Jobs Bill

  • Share
  • Read Later

In a Rasmussen poll taken last month, just 11% of voters surveyed said they thought Congress was doing a good job. A March NBC/Wall Street Journal poll — held a few days before the health-care bill’s passage — found that 17% of voters supported the performance of the legislative branch. A full 50% of voters in that poll said they’d back the removal of every member of Congress.

This vote, a noxious combo of procedural tactics and spinelessness, crystallizes that frustration:

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.

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.

With a masterful Simpsons reference, TNR’s Jonathan Chait points out how life sometimes imitates art.