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By David McGuire
washingtonpost.com Staff Writer
Thursday, December 16, 2004; 7:42 AM

In the final few weeks before the 2004 election, lobbyists for high-tech, entertainment and civil liberties interests were crammed into an icy room in the Dirksen Senate office building, trying to hammer out a bill that would have put Internet song-swapping networks like Kazaa and eDonkey out of business.

It was a controversial measure on a difficult topic, and could have easily been lost in the end-of-year shuffle. But Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Orrin G. Hatch (R-Utah) was the lead sponsor of the measure and had ordered the warring factions to keep talking until they came up with language everybody liked.

Talks eventually collapsed, but the fact that the measure was being debated at all in the October before a national election testified to the power that an influential committee chairman like Hatch has in managing the legislative agenda.

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