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Las Vegas-Efforts by Rep. Billy Tauzin (R-La.) to become the next Commerce Committee chairman got a boost from House SpeakerJ. Dennis Hastert (R-Ill.), who said Tauzin's 15 years as a Democrat count toward his GOP seniority.

Tauzin joined the House May 22, 1980, 13 months earlier than Rep. Michael Oxley (R-Ohio), his rival to replace retiring Commerce chairman Tom Bliley (R-Va.).

Seniority could tip the scales in their contest, but the matter would be moot if Republicans lose their five-seat House majority this fall.

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