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Democrats today blocked the most radical version of the GOP's proposedbalanced budget amendment, but the House seems headed tonight toward passing a near-clone that could wind up fundamentally changing the way the federal government does business. This afternoon, a roughly party-line vote (273-173) fell short of the two-thirds majority needed to pass the version favored by the Republican hard-right, which would have required a three-fifths "supermajority" vote before Congress could ever raise taxes. Nevertheless, says TIME congressional correspondent Karen Tumulty, House GOP leaders will probably win passage as early as this evening of a fallback measure that drops the tax-raising restriction but still outlaws deficit spending after 2002. The proposed constitutional amendment is also expected to clear the Senate, but its prospects of getting approval from two-thirds of state legislatures are unclear.