The more Congress tries to iron out next year's spending bills, the better the original Republican proposal--derided by opponents as effectively adding a phony 13th budget month--starts to look.

And so now, the winners of the Loop Name That Month Contest. This one drew nearly 400 entries, some of them quite good. We weeded out some suggestions that came as many as 10 times, such as Porkuary or Porkcember, Debtuary or Debtember, Budgetary and versions of spend or GOP: Spendtember, GOPituary and so on. And there were multiple versions for Senate Appropriations Committee member Arlen Specter (R-Pa.), who's been seen as the patron of the new month: Spectober, Specterary, Spectember and Spectercle.

When there were duplicates in the winning entries, the winner was declared based on time of entry.

Here we go:

* Abracadember: Andrew Hyman, director of the office of intergovernmental affairs at the Department of Health and Human Services.

* Payupuary: Norman N. Duquette, 38-year employee with the Department of Interior in Denver.

* Voodoober: retired Army chaplain Harold C. Lamm of Alexandria.

* Chimerary: Carolyn S. Greenfield, a retired administrator in the pharmacology department at Georgetown University Medical Center.

* Busta-cap-uary: Rep. David E. Bonior (D-Mich.).

* Gridlocked-ober: Barbie Selby, who works in the documents library at the University of Virginia Law School in Charlottesville.

* DeLaypril: Research engineer Chris Hamilton, who works for a subsidiary of Intel in Parsippany, N.J.

* Pinnochuary: Dora O'Shaughnessy of Charlotte.

* Beverywary: Conrad Lotze, a math and statistics instructor at American University.

* Noshovember: Eric Zimmerman and Amy Kiesel, attorneys at McDermott, Will & Emery; Fabio Silva, attorney at Crowell & Moring; and Philip Moos, an investment banker in Summit, N.J. This was from a list they submitted before the contest was announced on the assumption there would be a contest. Talk about being predictable.

Congratulations to the winners of those prized Loop Mugs and thanks to all for playing.

Maybe Their Pay's Tied to 13th Month

Speaking of Congress, a dozen or so House members may have found themselves short of cash last week after their official government paychecks bounced. Seems the lawmakers, unlike their aides and House officials, have their paychecks handled by the office of member services. This is a separate operation set up to cater to their needs.

The members have a direct deposit system for the monthly checks, which are sent to their banks. After authorization from the House, the Treasury Department sends out the checks, but for reasons unknown a series of zeros appeared before the lawmakers' bank account numbers, so the local banks kicked them back.

The members then got paper checks sent or delivered to their offices, a House aide said. It's not a Year 2000 problem, the aide said, but it's uncertain exactly what the problem is. The technical people are working to find out what happened. In the meantime, the system, which is used without problems by the CIA and the Senate, will be used again for this month's checks and will be monitored to see where the problems may be.

You know, when the House had its own bank, this kind of stuff didn't happen. Maybe . . .

They Stripped USIA and Gave It a Number

Now that the U.S. Information Agency is part of the State Department, the sign has been torn off its headquarters building at 4th and C Streets NW. State has now designated the building as Annex 44.

Some USIA folks in China were a bit dismayed when they saw a cable from Washington noting the new address. The problem is in Mandarin, the number "4" sounds like death. So USIA is double death now that it's in the warm embrace of the State Department.

Too bad they didn't use annex No. 8, which is a lucky number for the Chinese, who bid to have it on license plates, addresses, telephone numbers and such. But no matter, the annex will be No. 44.

Maybe that's why last week, when there was a ceremony to commemorate the merger, folks in the Voice of America newsroom catty-corner from No. 44 had an informal party with champagne and cake to celebrate independence from both the USIA and State.

Merger News: Kissinger and McLarty

Not quite the Odd Couple, but pretty close. Bill Clinton boyhood pal and former White House chief of staff Thomas F. "Mack" McLarty is teaming up with former secretary of state Henry A. Kissinger to form Kissinger McLarty Associates. (The firm will continue to be called Kissinger Associates Inc. in New York.)

McLarty, a former energy company executive who was also Clinton's special envoy for the Americas, is to be vice chairman of the new operation and is expected to focus on energy, transportation and Latin American sectors of the international consulting firm. McLarty aide Nelson Cunningham--former Senate, Justice Department and White House staffer--joins as a managing director. Former Army officer Stephen Donehoo and former House Foreign Affairs Committee aide Carl Lingenfelter are joining as directors.