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Conte, Top Republican MemberOf Education Panel, Dies at 69

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Washington--Representative Silvio O. Conte, the Massachusetts lawmaker who used his status as the ranking Republican on the House Appropriations Committee and its Labor, Health and Human Services, and Education Subcommittee to champion funding for education and health programs, died on Feb. 8.

Mr. Conte died as a result of excessive bleeding in his brain, which was caused by a blood disorder related to the progression of prostate cancer, according to doctors at the National Institutes of Health in Bethesda, Md., where the lawmaker was undergoing treatment.

"Congressman Conte will be sorely missed, but his contribution to the education of our nation's children will continue to make a difference in the lives of millions of students," said Edward R. Kealy, president of the Committee for Education Funding and director of federal programs for the National School Boards Association.

Mr. Conte's death came only four days after President Bush had released his proposed federal budget for the fiscal year that begins Oct. 1.

Over the years, education advocates noted, Mr. Conte could be counted on to fight for additional education spending, and lobbyists were expecting the veteran legislator to do the same this year.

Mr. Conte's advocacy was considered especially important be4cause of his ranking status on the full committee as well as on the subcommittee.

Representative Carl D. Pursell of Michigan is the second-ranking Republican on the subcommittee, and Representative Joseph M. McDade of Pennsylvania is the second-ranking Republican on the full panel.

The Republican Committee on Committees is expected to meet this week to name new ranking members to replace Mr. Conte, and tradition holds that Mr. Pursell and Mr. McDade will be considered first.

Susan Frost, executive director of the c.e.f., said Mr. Pursell has generally been supportive of education spending, but "the fact that [Mr. McDade] isn't on the subcommittee makes me nervous."

Mr. Conte, the only Republican in the Massachusetts Congressional delegation, was first elected to the House in 1958. Observers said his fondness for education could be traced to his experience in college, which he attended on the gi Bill.--mp

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