WASHINGTON - The Senate passed a bill yesterday that would give consumers permanent relief from telemarketers.

Approved by voice vote, the bill would relieve Americans from having to renew registration in the "Do Not Call" program. The House passed a similar bill last week.

The House and Senate bills have only minor differences, and final congressional approval is expected this year, said Barry Piatt, spokesman for chief Senate sponsor Byron Dorgan, D-N.D.

The "Do Not Call" registry, created in 2003, is one of the nation's most popular consumer programs - shielding Americans from telemarketer calls that were especially annoying at dinnertime.

Without the legislation, registrations would expire after Sept. 30, 2008, and have to be renewed.

The bill would prevent the Federal Trade Commission and Federal Communications Commission from automatically removing numbers without a request from the telephone owner. *