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15-hour filibuster delays senators

Despite delaying tactics that may keep the Senate in session for days to come, the 102nd Congress effectively ended Tuesday amid predictably partisan boasts and bickering over its successes and failures.

Senators led by Alfonse D'Amato of New York, who spoke for 15 hours, delayed passage of a final few bills, including a $27-billion tax measure and proposals to modernize the energy industry and authorize water projects in 17 states.

But back-to-back news conferences by the Democratic and Republican leaders after the House's adjournment indicated this Congress had, for all practical purposes, come to a fittingly contentious end.

House Speaker Thomas S. Foley, D-Wash., and Senate Majority Leader George Mitchell, D-Maine, boasted that the 102nd Congress had achieved major successes in spite of President Bush's vetoes.

They predicted that many of the measures vetoed by the president would be enacted next year with a Democratic-controlled Congress working with Bill Clinton, the Arkansas governor and Democratic presidential nominee.

Asked whether this Congress, with its banking and post office scandals, was "the Congress from hell," Foley smiled and replied, "when it ended, it was a Congress on the way to heaven."

But House Minority Leader Robert H. Michel, R-Ill., and Senate Minority Leader Bob Dole, R-Kan., said the Democratic leaders of Congress preferred criticizing the president to enacting important legislation.

And Dole said a Clinton presidency, combined with continued Democratic rule of Capitol Hill, would produce nothing but "liberal legislation and tax increases" in the next Congress.

Dole said it was useless for the Senate to stay in session to pass the $27-billion tax bill, which narrowly passed the House early Tuesday, because the president is unlikely to sign it.

"I think we ought to just pull the plug and get out of here," he said. "This tax package isn't going anywhere."

Killing the tax bill would free Bush from a politically difficult decision: The measure includes his urban renewal package as well as some tax increases.

Mitchell said the stalling tactics in the Senate would not change his plan of action, but would keep senators in town perhaps through Monday.

"These events have had and will have virtually no effect on the schedule," he told reporters.

The Senate planned to recess for the Jewish Yom Kippur holy day Tuesday evening, but planned to return Thursday. Lawmakers in both parties were in a rush to return home to campaign for re-election _ an uphill battle this year for many incumbents.

Final adjournment became elusive when D'Amato, a Republican battling for re-election, snarled the Senate in a 15-hour filibuster over the tax bill after it cleared the House early Tuesday.

D'Amato had threatened to keep up the vigil until he got his way over a small provision to help a New York typewriter factory _ a provision that could have jettisoned a tax bill that was months in the making.

But he gave up after the House adjournment, which made it impossible for him to make any changes in the bill.

"If you want a friend, get a dog," D'Amato said in a half-joking slap at colleagues who did not rally to his cause.

Although D'Amato never came close to breaking Sen. Strom Thurmond's 24-hour filibuster record, the fast-talking New Yorker gamely held the floor through the night and beyond noon, never sitting down or leaving to use the restroom.

At one point, he sang Deep in the Heart of Texas, a pointed reference to the tax-writing Finance Committee Chairman Lloyd Bentsen, D-Texas, and South of the Border, a reference to where he said New York state jobs were headed.

He eventually turned the floor over to Sen. John Seymour of California, another Republican facing a tough election challenge, who immediately requested that the full text of a 375-page water bill opposed by farmers in his home state be read aloud in the nearly empty Senate chamber.

The landmark measure, which passed the House early Tuesday, would limit sales of federally subsidized water to Western farmers.

Ready to take over after Seymour was Sen. Richard Bryan, D-Nev., who opposes provisions in a compromise energy bill that would allow the Energy Department to begin shipping nuclear wastes to an underground storage facility in New Mexico.

Bryan is concerned that the bill might indirectly dictate weaker health standards for a proposed high-level nuclear waste storage site in his state.

Bryan's objections delayed Senate consideration of the measure passed by the House on Monday aiming to promote energy efficiency, increase competition in the electricity industry and speed up nuclear plant licensing.

The bill, which is strongly supported by Bush, is the first broad energy legislation in more than a decade.

_ Information from AP was used in this report.

How Florida

delegation voted

Here is how Florida's representatives voted Tuesday in the 208-202 approval of a $27-billion tax measure.

A "yes" vote is a vote to approve the bill.

X denotes those not voting.

Democrats: Bacchus, Y; Bennett, N; Fascell, Y; Gibbons, Y; Hutto, N; Johnston, Y; Lehman, X; Peterson, Y; Smith, Y.

Republicans: Bilirakis, N; Goss, N; Ireland, N; James, N; Lewis, N; McCollum, N; Ros-Lehtinen, N; Shaw, Y; Stearns, X; Young, N.

_ Associated Press