COMPETES Act held up by porn amendment

On May 13, as House Republicans sought to capitalize on public outrage against recent scandals at the U.S Securities and Exchange Commission and the National Science Foundation, Democratic leaders removed the America COMPETES Act from the House floor after Republicans successfully attached a controversial amendment that slashed and eliminated authorized funding for several science agencies and programs.

“The Minority was willing to trade American jobs and our nation’s economic competitiveness for the chance to run a good political ad,” said House Science and Technology Committee Chairman Bart Gordon, D-Tenn. in a statement.

In addition to reducing science agency budgets and eliminating many new programs, the amendment, introduced by U.S. Rep. Ralph Hall, R-Texas, ranking member of the House Science and Technology Committee, barred funds authorized under COMPETES from paying the salary of any federal employee who had been disciplined for viewing pornography at work.  The Inspector General of the NSF recently identified several instances of NSF employees viewing pornography on the government’s time.

“We’re all opposed to federal employees watching pornography,” but this amendment was about “gutting funding for our science agencies,” Gordon said.

While Gordon hopes to bring COMPETES back up in the House, “the timing is unclear,” he said.

Read more about America COMPETES and the Republicans’ attempted changes from the House Science and Technology Committee.

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