he Baby Bells have trumped the long-distance companies during back-room negotiations over the House telecom deregulation bill. The Bells' lobbyists killed some restrictions on the Bells' expansion, causing the long distance companies, such as Sprint, to declare their opposition to the emerging telecom bill. This spat, which may be reversed once Democrats are allowed their say on the floor of the House, makes completion of the House measure trickier, reducing the chance for a deregulation bill this year.

Determined Democrat opposition has gridlocked a Republican deregulation bill championed by Senate Majority Leader Bob Dole, R-Kan. Despite numerous concessions and a solid Republican front, enough Democrats held the line to deny Dole the 60 votes he needed to end debate on the measure, which would have sharply restricted agencies' regulatory power. Dole may bring the bill back again if he can win the support of two more Democrats.

The House passed appropriations bills for energy and water-related programs, cutting research and development funding by 17 percent below the 1995 level, and the interior-related programs, cutting R&D accounts by 12 percent. Total R&D funding in the two bills fell from $5.2 billion in 1995 to $4.4 billion.

The House Appropriations Committee has given NASA's 12,900-person Goddard space research center in Greenbelt, Md., a wild ride during this year's budget deliberations. It first ordered the center be closed, then directed it be kept open and finally slashed funding for its major program, threatening 3,000 jobs at the center.

The House Government Reform and Oversight Committee rejected a request by the Fort Meade, Md.-based National Security Agency to speed up retirements with sweet retirement deals. The result will be less money for NSA technology over the next few years.

Is there a smart-card maker in his district? Rep. Bill McCollum, R-Fla., is pushing a proposal to create a tamper-proof Social Security card.

Three online executives have begun a Washington advertising campaign to pressure software-baron Bill Gates; "Bill... with dominant position comes added responsibilities," write the CEOs of America Online Inc., CompuServe Inc. and Prodigy Services Co., in an ad published in Roll Call, a newspaper serving Congress. What they seem to want is congressional pressure to help them get their online access software bundled into Windows 95, along with the software for Microsoft Network.

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