The Senate approved legislation to provide more safeguards against the firing of federal employees who expose waste, fraud and abuse in government.

The measure, the first substantive legislation approved by the Senate in the 101st Congress, passed 97-0 Thursday and is almost identical to the one pocket-vetoed last year by President Ronald Reagan.The House is expected to pass the bill shortly. It is supported by President Bush.

Sen. Carl Levin, D-Mich., the major sponsor of the bill, said, "Government employees who blow the whistle on waste, fraud and abuse are frontline soldiers in the battle to save the taxpayers money."

"Giving real protection to these whistle-blowers," Levin said, "is a very simple and very effective way to cut cost overruns and save taxpayers dollars."