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SENATE VOTES TO EASE HATCH ACT LESS THAN HOUSE

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Senate Republican leaders are betting the House won't insist on its version of a bill giving most federal employees new rights to play an active role in politics.

The Senate voted 68-31 on Tuesday to liberalize the 1939 Hatch Act, which restricted political work by Civil Service employees.At the same time, it decided that some 85,000 employees who hold sensitive jobs in law enforcement and national security should continue to observe the old, more restrictive rules.

Both the Senate bill, and the version passed earlier by the House, permit federal employees to engage in a full range of political activities on their own time. Both bar on-the-job political activity and prohibit federal employees from running for office themselves.

But in the Senate, Republicans worked successfully to exempt employees of such agencies as the Federal Bureau of Investigation, the Secret Service, the Criminal Division of the Justice Department, the Central Intelligence Agency, the National Security Agency and the Defense Intelligence Agency.