Federal File: Onward And Upward; Down and Out
Gary L. Bauer, nominated by President Reagan last week as expected to the Education Department's number-two post, has been by Secretary William J. Bennett's side from the moment the new Secretary was picked in January.
Mr. Bauer, 38, briefed Mr. Bennett for his confirmation hearings, has accompanied him to Capitol Hill appearances and elsewhere, and has been trying, through informal contacts in the Congress, to minimize the political damage of the controversies that have swirled around the Secretary.
The Senate has already confirmed Mr. Bauer once--for his current post as deputy undersecretary of planning, budget, and evaluation, which he has held since 1982. But he now faces a second confirmation hearing. And because of his close association with Mr. Bennett, some members of the Senate Labor and Human Resources Committee, which is expected to hold the confirmation hearings this month, could use the event as a forum for airing their complaints about Mr. Bennett, Congressional sources say.
One of the committee members is Senator Lowell P. Weicker Jr., the Connecticut Republican who sharply questioned him at his confirmation hearing and whose attack last week against two of Mr. Bennett's newly hired advisers prompted their resignations. Senator Weicker, moreover, apparently regards Mr. Bauer as a guardian of Administration philosophies he opposes. At Mr. Bennett's confirmation hearing, the Senator interrupted his questioning to acknowledge the presence in the audience of "my good friend, Gary Bauer, the philosophical enforcer at the department."
But aides to both Democratic and Republican committee members praise Mr. Bauer's low-key, professional approach and indicate that he will probably sail through the confirmation process for his new job, in which he will oversee day-to-day operations of the 5,000-employee agency.
Prior to joining the department, Mr. Bauer worked as a policy adviser for the Republican National Committee, the 1980 Reagan-Bush campaign committee, and the Reagan White House.
The Education Department's principal spokesman, Thomas G. Moore, resigned late last month--in part, sources say, because he objected to the resignations of Eileen M. Gardner and Lawrence A. Uzzell, the aides who were sharply criticized for advocating the elimination of federal laws for the education of the handicapped.
Neither Mr. Moore, the deputy assistant secretary for public affairs, nor Anne M. Graham, the assistant secretary for legislation and public affairs, would comment.
But department sources say Ms. Graham asked Mr. Moore to step down because he bypassed her and appealed to Secretary of Education William J. Bennett not to accept the Gardner and Uzzell resignations.
Mr. Moore, a political appointee, has been at the department since last September.--jh