Senate and House negotiators, rejecting a behind-the-scenes lobbying effort by Microsoft Corp. and its allies, yesterday agreed to give the Justice Department's antitrust division a 12 percent spending increase next year.
Friends of the giant Redmond, Wash., software company, the defendant in the government's most visible antitrust suit, had worked to keep the division's spending at the bare-bones $105.2 million level in a House spending bill. Some senators supportive of Microsoft also argued that the Senate allocation of $112.3 million was too high.
But in final bargaining yesterday morning, House-Senate negotiators completing the 2000 appropriations for the Justice, Commerce and State departments settled on $110 million, close to the original Senate figure.
Sen. Ernest F. Hollings (D-S.C.) said of Microsoft's congressional allies: "They caved."
The negotiators also dropped provisions that would have expanded federal hate crimes to include those motivated by a victim's sexual orientation, gender or disability.
"That was one elephant too much for this boa constrictor," said Sen. Judd Gregg (R-N.H.).
In July, the Senate without debate included hate-crimes legislation in a $35 billion appropriations bill for Commerce, Justice and State. The House version did not contain the provisions.