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Three and a half years of patronage for President Carter may be about to screech to a halt. When Congress meets next week, Senate Republicans will begin trying to block confirmation of Carter choices for federal posts.

The GOP wants to keep open the jobs, including 18 lifetime federal judgeships , in case Ronald Reagan takes over the White House. It's a tactic most presidents encounter in an election year.

The calendar should help the Republican effort. Congress meets for only 10 days in August, and all of the month of September, before adjourning in early October for the campaign. The GOP may be able to head off approval of some Carter nominees just by such simple delaying devices as requesting more background information on them.m

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