Congressional Reshufflings Change Composition of Education Panels

February 01, 1989 2 min read

Washington--With the reshuffling of assignments almost complete, education panels in the House and the Senate have undergone major changes in membership.

In an announcement that had been eagerly awaited by education advocates, Senator Arlen Specter of Pennsylvania was named last week as the ranking Republican on the Appropriations Committee’s subcommittee on education spending. He replaces Lowell P. Weicker Jr. of Connecticut, who was defeated for re-election.

Senator Tom Harkin, Democrat of Iowa, had already been named the subcommittee’s chairman. Other new members are Democrats Harry M. Reid of Nevada and Brock Adams of Washington and Republicans Thad Cochran of Mississippi and Phil Gramm of Texas.

On the Labor and Human Resources Committee, the departure of three Republicans prompted new interest in the panel by several gop senators. A major factor was a Senate rule that enabled members to join the panel at high levels of seniority.

Senator Nancy L. Kassebaum of Kansas made such a move, becoming the panel’s second-ranking Republican and the ranking minority member on its education subcommittee.

New committee members also took ranking Republican slots on the pan8el’s other two education-related subcommittees. David F. Durenberger of Minnesota, a Senate veteran, will serve on the Subcommittee on the Handicapped. Daniel R. Coats of Indiana, a former House member who was appointed to fill the seat left vacant by the election of Dan Quayle to the Vice Presidency, will join the Subcommittee on Children, Family, Drugs, and Alcoholism.

Another new senator, James M. Jeffords of Vermont, who had been ranking minority member on the House Education and Labor Committee, will sit on the education and handicapped panels and will hold the ranking spot on the labor panel.

On the House side, meanwhile, Mr. Jeffords’s replacement in the Vermont delegation, Representative Peter Smith, will take his slot on the Education and Labor Committee.

The House committee also has eight new Democratic members.

Representative George Miller of California is returning to Education and Labor, following the expiration of his term on the Budget Committee. Four new Democratic representatives have also joined: Donald M. Payne of New Jersey, Nita M. Lowey of New York, Glenn Poshard of Illinois, and Jolene Unsoeld of Washington.

One slot on the panel opened up with the resignation of Representa4tive Mario Biaggi of New York following his conviction on bribery charges.

In addition, six of the panel’s eight “temporary” members last year decided to leave it. Such panelists are allowed to sit on a committee when an insufficient number of lawmakers want to be full members.

In the current round of assignments, the panel acquired three new temporary Democratic members: Nick J. Rahall 2nd of West Virginia, Kweisi Mfume of Maryland, and Puerto Rico’s resident commissioner, Jaime B. Fuster, who can vote in committee but not on the House floor.

The changes increased by the Democratic representation on the panel by one member.--jm

A version of this article appeared in the February 01, 1989 edition of Education Week as Congressional Reshufflings Change Composition of Education Panels