WASHINGTON -- The decision by the White House and GOP leaders to push for an economic incentive package this year opens up a new opportunity for extending two popular municipal bond exemptions before they expire Dec. 31, municipal lobbyists said Friday.

But with Congress's top tax writer opposing such a package and Capitol Hill mired in bickering after the Clarence Thomas hearings, proponents of the tax exemptions for mortgage revenue bonds and small-issue industrial development bonds may be looking at a mirage, those sources said.

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