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News in Brief: A Washington Roundup

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Appointment of Surgeon General in Limbo

President Clinton does not plan to name a new U.S. surgeon general as long as the Republicans retain control of the Senate, his spokesman says.

Michael D. McCurry said at a news briefing that a replacement for Dr. Joycelyn Elders was unlikely until a Senate majority agrees with the president's position favoring the right to an abortion.

"The whole issue of getting someone confirmed to that post that shares the president's view that choice ought to be a matter left to a woman, her doctor, her advisers, and others, makes it virtually impossible in the current United States Senate to get a confirmation," Mr. McCurry said.

Dr. Elders left office in the wake of the 1994 Republican election victories. The Senate failed to confirm Dr. Henry Foster, whom President Clinton nominated to replace her.

Department Offers Impact-Aid Regulations

The Department of Education is outlining how and when school districts must reimburse the federal government when it pays them too much under the federal impact-aid program.

Districts would not have to return overpayments from the program if it would cause "undue financial hardship" or "seriously harm" children's education, the department said in proposing new regulations for the impact-aid law, which reimburses school districts for revenues lost because of the presence of federally owned land and facilities such as military bases.

The department's impact-aid office will be accepting comments on its proposal until Dec. 6.

IDEA Seeks Technology; ED Targets Regulations

The Department of Education has proposed six priorities for programs under the Individuals With Disabilities Education Act. Under the law's research program, the department will look for applicants with recent doctorates who propose "promising lines of research." Under its media-research program, the agency seeks to expand closed-captioning of sports programs and provide descriptions of television programs for deaf or blind adults and children. It also wants to fund a program that would screen and caption classic movies on video and a program that would research captioning of educational programs. As outlined in the Oct. 9 Federal Register, the department also will seek innovative technology and media tools for disabled students, including "state-of-the-art instructional environments in and out of school." Comments on the rules are being accepted through Dec. 9. ... The department also plans to review rules for vocational and adult education programs under the Regulatory Reinvention Initiative and is seeking editing suggestions through Nov. 15. Through August, the department had axed or "reinvented" 1,827 pages of regulations, officials boasted in the Oct. 16 Federal Register.

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