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Two conservatives in the House tell HUMAN EVENTS it was an accident that they voted to preserve funding for an NIH program that studies the way humans respond to pornography

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Conservatives Save NIH Porn Study by Mistake

Two conservatives in the House tell HUMAN EVENTS it was an accident that they voted to preserve funding for an NIH program that studies the way humans respond to pornography

Because they made errors in voting, two House members say through their press spokesmen, taxpayers will continue to fund National Institutes of Health (NIH) studies on the sexual habits of transgendered American Indians, and on how pornography affects sexual arousal of people in different moods.

An amendment to the Health and Human Services appropriations bill sought to strip funding for these studies as well as for studies on drug use by California prostitutes, panda bears in China, and the sexual habits of older men. The amendment was defeated on the House floor last week by two votes, 212-210.

Conservative Republican Representatives Joe Wilson (S.C.) and Chip Pickering (Miss.) voted against the amendment, preserving the NIH studies. Their spokesman independently told HUMAN EVENTS they did so by accident. Had they voted for the amendment it would have passed.

Pickering’s spokesman said the congressman’s no vote was “an error,” which happened because he did not know what he was voting on. “He didn’t realize [the amendment] was for those specific studies, which he does oppose,” said the spokesman.

Wilson’s spokesman gave a similar explanation. “There wasn’t a lot of debate on the House floor on the amendment,” he told HUMAN EVENTS, explaining the congressman’s confusion. “He feels really awful about it.”

“Someone should be fired,” grumbled one veteran conservative congressional aide when told of the alleged mix-up. “They have not done their job.”

Rep. Pat Toomey (R.-Pa.)-who is challenging Sen. Arlen Specter (R.-Pa.) in next year’s Senate primary-and freshman Rep. Chris Chocola (R.-Ind.) co-sponsored the amendment to remove the combined $1.5 million in funding for the studies.

In all, 51 Republicans failed to support the amendment. Besides Pickering and Wilson, other surprising “no” votes came from conservatives such as Jim McCrery (R.-La.), Darrell Issa (R.-Calif.), and Mike Simpson (R.-Idaho).

“I think the congressman voted with the chairman,” said Simpson Chief of Staff Lindsay Slater. Slater was referring to House Appropriations Chairman Bill Young (R.-Fla.), on whose committee Simpson serves.

Issa’s spokesman did not return calls from HUMAN EVENTS. Issa is working to recall (and hoping to personally replace) California Gov. Gray Davis (D.) because Davis ran up a $38-billion state deficit.

Rep. Doug Bereuter (R.-Neb.) voted “present.” He entered a statement in the Congressional Record saying he had “a conflict of interest” because he supported the NIH panda bear study.

McCrery cited the same study to explain his “no” vote. “Had Pat [Toomey] not put in his amendment the panda bear project, I would have voted for it,” McCrery told HUMAN EVENTS. McCrery said the study would help combat the spread of SARS from animals to humans.

The NIH website gives a largely anthropological rather than epidemiological description of that study, portraying it as an examination of humans’ use of firewood and its impact on the surrounding panda population. It does not specifically mention disease as a topic of study.

Conservative Rep. Mike Pence (R.-Ind.) said the small amount of money involved-$1.5 million-did not make the vote any less important.

“I don’t think it was about the number,” said Pence, referring to the pornographic studies. “It’s deeply offensive to the families of my district that we would pay a dollar to do that, let alone hundreds of thousands of dollars.”

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Written By

Mr. Freddoso is the senior political reporter for the Evans-Novak Political Report.

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