THE Republican-controlled House of Representatives in Florida yesterday approved a plan to deliver the state's 25 Electoral College votes for the US Presidency to George W. Bush.

On a vote of 79-41, with two Democrats crossing party lines, the House endorsed a slate of presidential electors loyal to Republican Bush.

The proposal now goes to the Florida Senate, which is expected to approve it today.

Meanwhile, after closely questioning lawyers for all sides, the Supreme Court in Washington pondered its ruling in the Presidential election, a contest that holds Bush and Al Gore in limbo and the nation in thrall.

As is their custom, the justices in the capital gave no indication of when they might rule in the case of Bush V. Gore - the name on the court docket as well as a choice that confronted the voters when they marked their ballots five tumultuous weeks ago.

They were due to decide whether a recount of questionable votes in Florida should be resumed - Gore's only chance of making it to the White House.

There were obvious time pressures, as the deadline loomed for the states to certify their slates of Electoral College delegates.

It is the college that decides who will be the next President - with Florida's 25 votes due to decide the outcome.

By mid-afternoon, officials at the National Archives office said they had received the formal paperwork from more than half of the 50 states.

The news from Tallahassee in Florida of the Legislature's stated readiness to appoint a slate of its own added to the sense of uncertainty.

"One way or the other, it will be a historic decision that we will live with forever," said President Bill Clinton, more than a month after the nation voted on his successor.

While Democrats accused the Legislature of illegally substituting its will for that of the voters, Republicans complained that Bush was the victor on November 7, and that it is wrong to use different standards to discern a voter's intent when recounting ballots by hand.