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Federal File: Late, late, late for an important date

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At its annual dinner last week, the Committee for Education Funding was set to honor some of its most cherished friends--members of the Congress who put education at the top of their agendas. But Representatives Robert S. Walker of Pennsylvania and F. James Sensenbrenner Jr. of Wisconsin had other plans.

By creating parliamentary hurdles to dozens of bills that day, the Republican legislators forced the 1990 distinguished-service-award honorees--Dale E. Kildee, Democrat of Michigan; Silvio O. Conte, Republican of Massachusetts; and Bill Goodling, Republican of Pennsylvania--to skip much of the evening.

Representative William H. Natcher, a Kentucky Democrat and the chairman of the House Appropriations Subcommittee on Labor, Health and Human Services, and Education, missed the banquet to continue his record of never missing a vote on the House floor.


Mr. Natcher was given the 1990 James G. O'Hara Education Leadership Award, along with Senator Claiborne Pell, Democrat of Rhode Island, who was represented by his wife, Nuala.

Senator Tom Harkin, Democrat of Iowa, also received a 1990 distinguished-service award. The committee presented retiring Representative Augustus F. Hawkins, Democrat of California and a 1989 Education Leadership Award winner, with a fishing pole.

Some attendees couldn't help but speculate that Mr. Walker and Mr. Sensenbrenner knew the annual banquet was taking place the night they decided to prolong the House action.


Becky H. Timmons, president of the cef and director of Congressional liaison for the American Council on Education, tried to lighten the mood.

Noting that in an adjacent ballroom the Education Department was hosting its third annual conference on substance-abuse issues in higher education, she said the Hyatt Regency's guests could be divided into "a who's who of education and a who's that of education."

Later, when introducing a Georgetown University priest who was to lead a prayer before dinner, she said: "And now for the invocation I turn to the man who had the same role at the last supper."

Ms. Timmons noted the increases Congressional subcommittees have allocated education programs, but added that because of the uncertainty surrounding next year's budget, "we recognize that our kids and our schools can't go and deposit that money in their S.&L.'s yet."--mp

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