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House Republicans block research bill for federal science agencies

House Democrats Wednesday failed for the second time to pass legislation that would reauthorize research and development programs at federal science agencies.

House Science Chairman Rep. Bart Gordon, D-Tenn., reintroduced the America COMPETES Act after it was pulled from the floor last week, when lawmakers passed a GOP-sponsored motion to recommit the measure.

House leaders brought the revised version of the bill up Wednesday under suspension of the rules, but it failed to garner the two-thirds vote required, 261-148. The measure garnered the support of all Democrats who voted but only 15 Republicans.

Republicans said that while they support the bill's goals, it is too costly and strayed too far from the scope of the original 2007 America COMPETES law, which expires this year.

Democrats made a few changes to the version the House took up last week. The revised bill would authorize its programs for three years instead of five, and it included language from last week's motion to recommit, offered by House Science Committee ranking member Rep. Ralph Hall, R-Texas, that would ban authorized funds in the bill from being used to pay the salaries of federal employees disciplined for looking at pornography on work computers.

"I'm disappointed, but not deterred," Gordon said in a statement. "This bill is too important to let fall by the wayside. More than half of our economic growth since World War II can be directly attributed to development and adoption of new technologies. The path is simple: Research leads to innovation; innovation leads to economic development and good paying jobs."

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