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A new item was added last week to the list of things you didn't see during Republican Administrations but do see now: Education Department officials attending the annual Committee for Education Funding awards dinner.

The crowd at the 1993 C.E.F. function included Kay Casstevens, the assistant secretary for legislation and Congressional affairs; Tom Wolanin, her deputy; Judith Heumann, the assistant secretary for special education and rehabilitative services; Terry Peterson, a counselor to Secretary of Education Richard W. Riley; Fritz Edelstein and Maureen McLaughlin, both career officials; General Counsel Judith Winston; and even Mr. Riley himself.

The annual dinner, where members of Congress and others are honored for their support of education funding, brings lobbyists, lawmakers, and their aides together for cocktails and networking.

This year's main honoree was Hillary Rodham Clinton, whose award was accepted for her by Secretary Riley.

Because the education lobby in Washington had inevitably panned the Reagan and Bush education budgets--and because, as one attendee noted, "this is basically a Democratic function''--members of those Administrations were not invited to be lobbyists' guests.

But this year, numerous Clinton Administration officials received invitations--despite the education community's disappointment with Mr. Clinton's education budget.

According to a department spokeswoman, each received separate clearance from Ms. Winston's office.


Sen. Paul Wellstone, D-Minn., wanted his colleagues to set an example by signing up for lowest-common-denominator health care--the standard, average-price plan that President Clinton's health-care proposal would guarantee every American.

To that end, Mr. Wellstone offered an amendment to a social-services spending bill that would have required them to do so.

But a handful of his colleagues from both parties balked publicly, saying the liberal Senator would deny them the same choice of health care that their constitutents would have under the Clinton plan.

"We will be the only ones in America that will not sit down in our living room with our children, with our spouse, with our families, maybe even with our doctor, to decide what is best,'' Sen. Barbara Boxer, D-Calif., said.

The Senators changed Mr. Wellstone's provision to a statement that lawmakers would be offered health-care plans comparable to those available to the rest of the nation.--M.P. & L.S.

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