WASHINGTON - Congress has approved legislation to strengthen federal regulation of the government securities market, clearing the way for President Clinton to sign the measure into law.

The bill won approval in the Senate by unanimous consent Monday night and was adopted by voice vote in the House early Tuesday morning. The legislation has the support of the Treasury Department and the Securities and Exchange Commission, and President Clinton is expected to sign it.

The bill largely adopts the tougher approach taken by the House, rather than the narrower regulatory tack taken by the Senate in its version.

It permanently extends the Treasury's rulemaking authority over the government market but grants new powers to SEC regulators.

All government securities brokers and dealers would be required to furnish the SFC with electronic records of trades when requested for market surveillance or enforcement actions. The bill also beefs up SEC antifraud authority and directs the agency to monitor market access to price data from private vendors.

The legislation allows the National Association of Securities Dealers and federal bank regulators to write sales practice for dealers.

The Treasury would be allowed to issue large position reporting rules for market participants, supplementing existing surveillance activities by government agencies.

The Public Securities Association issued a statement yesterday welcoming passage of the bill. "This legislation will provide better information for regulators and additional protection for investors, while balancing the needs of marketplace liquidity and efficiency and keeping down the government's cost of financing its debt," said Heather Ruth, president of the group.

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