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BLOCK TAX HIKES, HILL FUNDING: House GOP members capped three days ofrapid-fire proposalsto reduce the size, influence and purse of the Congress today with a Republican vote to require a supermajority of three-fifths of the House to approve almost any personal and corporate income tax hikes. (The idea, which goes to the House floor Jan. 4, makes it much harder to raise taxes than under the current 51 percent vote required.) The tax reform package, a key element of the party's 10-point "Contract with America," also bans retroactive tax increases and allows leeway only for revenue-raising hikes and others to offset any forthcoming capital gains cuts. The GOP also formally embraced a series of rule changes that will force staff cuts, limit committee chairmen to three consecutive terms and eliminate all $5 million in funds for 28 legislative support groups, such as the Congressional Black Caucus. Howls of protests from Democrats were immediately unleashed. House Republicans also approved incoming Speaker Newt Gingrich's choices for House committee chairman, including Reps. Bill Archer of Texas at the tax-writing Ways and Means Committee; Bob Livingston of Louisiana at Appropriations; John Kasich of Ohio at the Budget Committee and Henry Hyde of Illinois at the Judiciary Committee. (No chairman was chosen for the ethics committee, which is reviewing conflict-of-interest accusations against Gingrich himself.)