Rep. William L. Clay, the ranking Democrat on the House Education and the Workforce Committee, announced last week that he would retire after roughly three decades in Congress when his current term ends following next year's elections.
The 68-year-old congressman, the first African-American elected to represent Missouri in the House, is known for his commitment to promoting civil rights and advocating programs for the poor. He has been influential in the passage of bills on the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act, higher education, vocational education, and Head Start.
In announcing his retirement during a May 24 speech at Harris-Stowe State College in St. Louis, Mr. Clay stressed that he still had 1« years left in office to pursue his agenda. "I will continue to speak loudly, boisterously, about the inequities in our society," he said
Rep. George Miller, a California lawmaker known for having a strongly independent streak, is the second-ranking Democrat on the education committee. His spokesman, Daniel Weiss, said Mr. Miller intended to take the senior slot "if so elected by the [Democratic] caucus." Mr. Miller would be in line to become the chairman of the committee if the Democrats regain control of the House in 2000.
An unlikely alliance is looking to forge bipartisan agreement on education reform to help advance this year's reauthorization of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act.
For the past few months, members of the staffs of Sens. Joseph I. Lieberman, D-Conn., and Slade Gorton, R-Wash., as well as representatives of think tanks and other organizations across the political spectrum, have been meeting in hopes of reaching agreement on overhauling the ESEA. ("Clinton ESEA Plan Targets Accountability," May 26, 1999.)
Among the participants in the talks are the Heritage Foundation, Empower America, and the Thomas B. Fordham Foundation, as well as the Progressive Policy Institute and the Education Trust, an advocacy organization for disadvantaged students. Some aides to Sen. Judd Gregg, R-N.H., who heads the Senate Subcommittee on Children and Families, have also attended meetings.
The group is expected to release a paper within the next month or so outlining its ideas, an aide to Sen. Lieberman said.
-- Erik W. Robelen [email protected]
Vol. 18, Issue 38, Page 17