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Federal File: On the road; Budget flap; Duel by press release

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Secretary of Education Lamar Alexander made his first campaign appearances on behalf of President Bush last week, a low-key swing through New Hampshire that went unreported by the national media.

A campaign spokesman said Mr. Alexander spoke to the Concord Kiwanis Club and at a Republican fundraiser, gave interviews to the weekly Hillsboro News-Messenger and several radio reporters, attended a reception at a Bush supporter's home, and visited with Governor Judd Gregg.


It is typical for members of the minority party in the Congress to protest their small share of the operating funds doled out to committees. But Representative Frank R. Wolf of Virginia took the unusual step of issuing a press release decrying the 41 percent increase sought by the chairman of the House Select Committee on Children, Youth, and Families.

"I don't know of a single company or family that will have a budget increase of 41 percent this year," said Mr. Wolf, the panel's ranking Republican.

A spokesman for Representative Patricia Schroeder, the Colorado Democrat who is chairman of the committee, said she was seeking the funds to put together an "investigative team" to look into private- and public-sector initiatives "that harm American children." For example, he said, the panel is interested in the efficacy of automobile safety seats.

The spokesman said the committee's current budget is only $52,000 greater than the $712,000 it was allocated when it was created in 1983.

He also noted that while Mr. Wolfs statement said House Republicans would not support increases above the inflation rate of about 4 percent, Mr. Wolf had asked for a 21 percent hike in his committee budget.


The American Federation of Teachers last week called on President Bush to declare "a state of emergency for children in crisis" and asked the Congress to "rescue" them with "immediate legislative action."

The union called for more than $5 billion in new spending on education, child care, and child health programs, and for $8 billion to $10 billion over five years to rebuild school facilities.

Secretary Alexander immediately issued a response that was far less sensational than the A.F.T. statement. He agreed that "our children do face serious problems" and claimed that Mr. Bush's budget and his America 2000 education plan represent "a strategy for tackling" those problems. --J.M.

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