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Federal File: Thanks But No Thanks; Father Domenici; A Foreign Affair

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The new chairman of the Democratic National Committee, as part of an effort to change the public's perception of the party as a captive of special interests, implored the nation's labor unions last month not to endorse a Presidential candidate before the party's nominating convention in 1988.

"[T]he trade-union movement can strengthen the party's nominee by refraining from an early endorsement," said Paul G. Kirk Jr., the new chairman, at a meeting of the Communications Workers of America. "Let the candidates use the primary process to demonstrate their own broad appeal and their own strong politcial base before giving [one] your full and united backing."

Mr. Kirk's request was interpreted by some observers as a slap at the National Education Association and the American Federation of Teachers, both of which gave preliminary pledges of support to the Democratic candidate, Walter F. Mondale, 13 months before last November's election and three months before the party's first primary.

President Reagan's supporters turned the endorsements against Mr. Mondale during the campaign, alleging that the Democrat was much too closely tied to the teachers' groups.

Senator Pete V. Domenici, chairman of the Senate Budget Committee, is caught in perhaps a classic case of conflict of interest.

The New Mexico Republican, whose panel recommends spending limits on federal programs, admitted the conflict last month at the legislative conference of the Council of Great City Schools.

Days earlier, the budget committee had overwhelmingly rejected President Reagan's proposed $2.3-billion cut in aid to postsecondary students next year, opting instead for a relatively mild $200-million reduction.

At the gathering of urban educators, Senator Domenici revealed his vested interest in preserving student aid: next school year, seven of his eight children will be enrolled at institutions of higher learning.

Still, despite whatever federal aid might be available, he said that he had "no idea how I'm going to pay for it."

Gary L. Bauer, soon to be nominated as undersecretary of education, was recently named to a three-member Presidential commission to study the 1928 famine in the Ukraine. He said that he did not know how he came to be picked for the panel.

He did know that the panel was created by the Congress last year to study the role of the Bolshevik goverment in causing or exacerbating the famine.

Mr. Bauer, who confided to a reporter recently that his true love is foreign affairs, said he did not expect the panel's work to interfere with his duties at the department.

His fellow commissioners are Surgeon General C. Everett Koop and Howard E. Douglas, ambassador\at-large with the State Department.

--tm & jh

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