House Dems to try again on tech bill

House Democrats on Wednesday will take a second stab at a science and technology research funding bill that was scuttled last week because of a debate over Internet porn.

Aides said the House would vote on a version that costs about half of what the legislation that Democratic leaders abandoned last week had cost.

The bill will also include language expressly forbidding the use of federal funds to pay employees who have been disciplined for viewing pornography. That provision was included in a motion by Republicans that successfully forced Democrats to vote for steep cuts to the bill. Once that measure – called a motion to recommit – passed, Democratic leaders pulled the underlying legislation from the floor and lambasted Republicans for playing “political games.”

ADVERTISEMENT
The bill reauthorizes the America Competes Act, a program to fund science research and training grants, which originally passed in 2007 with bipartisan support. The revised bill extends the program by three years instead of five, thereby reducing its projected cost to $48 billion, from $94 billion, a Democratic leadership aide said.

Rep. Bart Gordon (D-Tenn.), the chairman of the House Committee on Science and Technology, plans to introduce the bill using his chamber's suspension process, which prevents amendments to the act but requires two-thirds vote of those present for passage.

Gordon said he had agreed to compromise on the length of the reauthorization in order to get it passed. “This legislation is too important to our nation’s scientific and economic leadership to let it fall victim to political gridlock,” said Gordon.

"While I certainly would have preferred the stability a five-year authorization would have given our science agencies, I am willing to compromise with the minority, in the interest of getting a good bill through the House and to our colleagues in the Senate."

A Democratic aide would say only that the cuts made to the bill were what most Republicans had asked for and that Democrats hoped to gain GOP support

House GOP members, led by Rep. Paul Broun (R-Ga.), pushed an amendment that cut the legislation's funding to three years as part of the party's motion to recommit last week.