Nation: Cutting Through a Thicket

Tension, zigzags and a battle over energy

Although the major battle in Congress last week was over taxes, Senators and Representatives also had to fight their way through a bewildering array of measures. "I've voted enough today," snapped Democrat Barbara Jordan of Texas as she hobbled off the House floor on a cane at 11 o'clock one night. Admitted Senate Majority Leader Robert Byrd one evening: "I'm so tired that I can't remember whether this motion is debatable."

Roll-call buzzers sounded repeatedly in both chambers. Aides gathered in corridors and hallways for hurried conferences with then-bosses. Pages scurried about, notifying Senators and Representatives...

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