The Senate Governmental Affairs Committee has scheduled hearings Sept. 19 and 22 on legislation to amend the "no politics" Hatch Act. That 1939 law prohibits federal and postal employees from taking an active role in political campaigns, or running as candidates in partisan elections.

Earlier this year the House voted 244 to 164 for the bill by Rep. William Clay (D-Mo.) to repeal many of the "no" provisions in the Hatch Act. Federal and postal unions have been pushing for the liberalization of the act. They see it as a way to increase their political clout with Congress.

The Senate has been a question mark however, since Chairman Abraham Ribicoff (D-Conn.) who controls government employee-related legislation, opposes the Hatch Act changes. Ribicoff said he would not try to hold up the Hatch Act legislation, although he won't back it or support it. Instead, he has assigned Sen. James Sasser (D-Tenn.) to handle hearings. Sasser has told unions he favors the Hatch Act changes.

Hill watchers still doubt that the Senate can complete action on the Hatch Act changes this year, because it plans to adjourn in early October and because other items have priority. Opponents of the Hatch Act changes also have threatened to filibuster to block action, meaning the Hatch Act matter probably will go over into [TEXT OMITTED FROM SOURCE]