Wright Change Offered

Backers suggest wording to address antitrust concerns


"It gives us an opportunity to review it, and again add our expertise to ensure that if any legislation does get passed, it's the best legislative product possible," Mr. Lungren said.

If any changes are made in the House version, the Senate would have to come up with identical language in its bill to prevent a procedural logjam.

Congress is scheduled to be in session for less than a month before returning home to campaign for the November elections. That could further complicate efforts to clear the legislation by the end of the year, when the North Texas agreement expires.

"There's still enough time, but it really needs to be the same in the House and the Senate," Ms. Granger said.

On the Senate side, Sen. Patrick Leahy, D-Vt., has expressed similar antitrust concerns.

But the deal has been backed by key Senate Republicans, including Majority Leader Bill Frist of Tennessee, John McCain of Arizona, and John Ensign, the Nevada senator who originally introduced legislation to repeal Wright.

Sen. Kay Bailey Hutchison, R-Texas, who is leading efforts to clear the bill through the Senate, said she worked through the day on the Wright issue, losing sleep over the matter.

She said she e-mailed her staff at 4 a.m. Wednesday with the subject line: "Couldn't sleep. What about this?"

Ms. Hutchison said she was working with Sen. Arlen Specter, R-Pa., and Mr. Leahy to resolve the antitrust concerns.

"These are pretty simple, clear-cut questions," she said. "We either answer them or we try to have some strategy by which everybody can have their say and we can move forward."



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