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Policy

Science Bill Fails To Clear House

by Susan R. Morrissey
May 24, 2010 | APPEARED IN VOLUME 88, ISSUE 21

Democrats in the House of Representatives were unable to get enough votes to pass legislation reauthorizing the America Competes Act last week. The act, which aims to boost U.S. competitiveness through increased support for science and engineering research and education, is set to expire this year. The bill (H.R. 5325) was a modified version of legislation (H.R. 5116) that was pulled from full House consideration on May 13 (C&EN Online Latest News, May 14). To garner Republican support, the modified bill included two new provisions to counter objections to the original bill. First, it cut the bill’s overall cost in half by reducing the authorized funding for NSF, NIST, and the Department of Energy’s Office of Science from five to three years. Second, it added language banning the use of authorized funds to pay the salaries of federal employees disciplined for looking at pornography at work. But Republicans still expressed concern about the overall cost and the inclusion of several new programs that, according to them, aren’t in line with the original act’s intent. Democrats say they will continue efforts to pass the reauthorization bill. “I’m disappointed, but not deterred,” Bart Gordon (D-Tenn.), the bill’s sponsor, said in a statement. “This bill is too important to let fall by the wayside.”

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