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Federal File: Fightin' words; Author, author; Aid chief

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Rep. Steve Gunderson, R-Wis., was the victim of an unusual personal attack on the House floor last month during consideration of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act.

After Mr. Gunderson spoke out against an amendment offered by Rep. Mel Hancock, R-Mo., that would have barred federal funding for school districts that encourage or support "homosexuality as a positive lifestyle alternative,'' Rep. Robert K. Dornan, R-Calif., made some pointed remarks about the lawmaker's own lifestyle.

According to The Associated Press, Mr. Dornan, who is known for anti-gay diatribes, said: "He has a revolving door on his closet. He's in, he's out, he's in, he's out.''

Rep. William D. Ford, D-Mich., the chairman of the House Education and Labor Committee, and Rep. Bill Goodling, R-Pa., the committee's ranking Republican, urged Mr. Dornan to desist.

Mr. Dornan eventually agreed, and his remarks were not recorded.

Mr. Gunderson, a moderate on the Education and Labor panel, has declined to discuss his personal life.

The issue arose publicly a few years ago when a gay activist reportedly threw a drink at Mr. Gunderson in a bar frequented by homosexuals. The offender espoused the theory that exposing prominent gays who have not publicly declared their sexual preference promotes the public acceptance of all gays.

Deputy Secretary of Education Madeleine M. Kunin is also an author. Alfred A. Knopf has published her memoir, "Living A Political Life,'' in which Ms. Kunin recounts her life as a homemaker, journalist, activist, and politician.

Ms. Kunin, who was the first woman to be elected governor of Vermont and only the fourth woman governor in the nation's history, recounts her political development, her struggle to succeed in a profession dominated by men, and the toll that politics has taken on her and her family.

Secretary of Education Richard W. Riley last month named Leo Kornfeld as deputy assistant secretary for postsecondary education. He will head the student-financial-assistance office, overseeing the $10.3 billion student-grant and -loan programs, including the new direct-loan program.--MARK PITSCH

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