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Key Dem Urges No-Vote on GOP STEM Visa Bill Key Dem Urges No-Vote on GOP STEM Visa Bill

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Key Dem Urges No-Vote on GOP STEM Visa Bill

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House ethics Committee Chairwoman Rep. Zoe Lofgren, D-Calif., speaks on Capitol Hill in Washington, Thursday, July 29, 2010, during a hearing investigating Rep. Charles Rangel, D-N.Y. (AP Photo/Susan Walsh)  (AP Photo/Susan Walsh)

An influential Democrat on immigration policy is urging her colleagues not to sign on to what she says is a seriously flawed Republican bill to create a new green card category for foreigners who have received doctorate degrees from U.S. universities in science, technology, engineering and math.

Instead, Democratic Rep. Zoe Lofgren is asking her colleagues to support her version of the legislation, according to a senior House Democratic staffer familiar with the issue. Republicans plan to vote this week on a bill by House Judiciary Committee Chairman Lamar Smith. But because of House rules, it needs two-thirds of the lawmakers voting to approve it, which could mean Republicans would need about 50 Democratic yes votes, a fact that has some Democrats predicting its defeat.

 "In order for this to have a chance of passing the Senate, we have to work together on a balanced bipartisan bill that gives something to all sides. This bill, the Republican bill, does not do that," the senior House Democratic aide said.

On Tuesday, Democratic Sen. Chuck Schumer introduced a separate STEM bill in the upper chamber.

The competing bills come after negotiations between Schumer and Smith on a bipartisan, bicameral bill fell apart last month. A few days before the August recess, Smith reached out to Lofgren to do a potential deal. But last week, Republicans told Lofgren that if they couldn't get a deal by Friday, they would introduce their own bill, which is what they did, according to a Democratic source familiar with the talks.

Democrats don't like that Smith's bill eliminates the diversity visas that are made available to foreigners who hail from countries that don't get a lot of immigrants. They also oppose a provision that allows graduates from for-profit colleges to qualify for a visa.

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