AS SPECULATION CONTINUES on who will be appointed to the next term as Federal Re serve chairman in August, the man now in the job keeps receiving plaudits and calls for his reappointment when he appears before congressional committees.

Last week at the House banking subcommittee for domestic monetary policy, chairman Stephen Neal, D-N.C., called Mr. Volcker one of the great heroes of our time. He contended that President Reagan's only contribution to curbing inflation was to reappoint Mr. Volcker as Fed chairman in 1983.Republican Rep. Bill McCollum, Fla., disagreed only slightly, saying that the administration had helped by acquiescing in the Fed's inflation-fightin g efforts.

But he also urged that President Reagan reappoint Mr. Volcker to yet another term.

Any decision may not be made before June, and can easily be affected by changes in key White House staff jobs.

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CONGRESS IS GETTING RESTLESS over the $24 million it approved nearly two years ago for the Inter-American Investment Corp.

The corporation, an offshoot of the Inter-American Development Bank, still doesn't have a general manager - or operational staff - though it was set up nearly a year ago.

Sen. Edward Zorinsky, D-Neb., complained to Treasury Secretary James Baker that the new agency, designed to encourage small business investment in Latin America and the Caribbean, already has cost the United States $2.6 million in interest.

Making matters worse, he said, the Reagan administration is proposing another $26 million for the corporation -- a request already denied last summer.

The delay in naming a general manager reflects infighting between the United States and Latin American countries over the running of the Inter- American Development Bank. The U.S. Treasury is insisting on major changes in the bank's lending policies. It also wants a general manager for the new corporation that it can rely on.

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PIEDMONT AND DELTA airlines are a big step closer to winning the competition for new service rights to London, in large part because they are not now big international carriers.

An administrative law judge at the Department of Transportation recommended Piedmont and Delta over American Airlines and Pan American World Airways in part because he said it's longstanding government policy to favor new entrants in limited-entry markets, other things being equal.

He also emphasized in his decision the fact that Piedmont and Delta propose service out of cities where they already have firmly established hubs, Charlotte, N.C., and Cincinnati, Ohio, respectively.

American proposed service out of Raleigh/ Durham, N.C., where it intends to establish a major hub but has quite a ways to go to do so, while Pan Am's proposal was for service out of Pittsburgh, where it has no hub and would have to rely on another carrier, USAir, for connecting service to other domestic points.

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THE IRAN ARMS SCANDAL spilled over into last week's hearing of the House Aviation Subcommittee on reauthorization of the airport and airways improvement program. Jim Burnley, deputy secretary of transportation, testified that the administration wants the program extended for two years, rather than five, as favored by the airports, because a special commission Congress established last fall to study aviation safety is expected to complete its work in about two years and could call for some major policy adjustments.

Rep. Norman Mineta, D-Calif., chairman of the subcommittee, said he found the administration's sudden emphasis on the commission curious. The administration was suppose to have made appointments to the panel last November, but has yet to do so.

Mr. Burnley said that's not DOT's fault. It send a list of possible

appointees to the White House months ago for review and security checks, and there it sits.

Perhaps it went through the shredder, chided Rep. Mineta.

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WORK WILL CONTINUE on multiyear highway funding legislation this week but a final bill will take some time.

House-Senate conferees sat down with 19 major issues dividing them and not very many have been settled yet.

The administration and the nation's governors have gone on record and are working in support of repealing the 55 mph speed limit despite the staunch opposition of the House Public Works and Transportation Committee chairman, Rep. James Howard, D-N.J.

House members are pushing hard for special federally funded demonstration projects they want in the bill and it is still unclear how many will be in the final legislation.

One lobbyist sees those projects as an all-or-nothing issue: Demonstration projects are political potato chips, and they can't stop at just one.

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THE DEFENSE DEPARTMENT is hanging tough on its position that cargo preference for U.S.-flag ocean carriers doesn't apply until the title of goods is actually in its hands.

That has meant that materials imported by private contractors and incorporated in products made for the Defense Department are outside cargo preference.

The House Merchant Marine Subcommittee rapped Defense officials for this last year and asked for a detailed legal explanation.

The explanation hasn't been made available yet, but it is understood to have been completed and delivered to the Justice Department. It is said to run 14 pages - seven times longer than the department's original explanation.

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A new book Crime Warps - The Future of Crime in America by Georgette Bennett is being read with interest by the insurance industry, particularly the Insurance Information Institute.

The thesis is that crime is moving out of the violent street crime pattern that dominated when the fastest growing segment of the population was those between 14-24. This crime is being displaced by computer crime, theft of technology and theft of trade secrets, and it generally is insurers who pay for economic crimes.

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REP. ED JENKINS, D-GA., last week received a rare challenge to his use of the old phrase I'm just a country lawyer, but . . .

Rep. Don Pease, D-Ohio, interjected at a House Ways and Means subcommittee hearing that he learned long ago that when someone said that, one should hang on to his wallet as tightly as he could.

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