Federal File: Nomination blues

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While the Clinton Administration has named more officials to top posts in the Education Department than in many other agencies, only Secretary of Education Richard W. Riley and Deputy Secretary Madeleine M. Kunin have been confirmed.

"We are a little short of people who can sign documents,'' an aide to Mr. Riley acknowledged.

The Administration has formally notified the Senate about seven of the nine other pending nominations, but has not submitted paperwork on any of them, Senate aides said.

Marshall S. Smith, who is slated to be undersecretary of education, may face a longer wait than his colleagues. He not only must be confirmed, but Congress must also authorize his position.

In 1990, Undersecretary Ted Sanders was promoted to deputy secretary when Congress sought to insure that the number-two official in each federal agency had the same title and rank. When Lamar Alexander became secretary, he wanted to bring on David T. Kearns as his deputy, but he also wanted to keep Mr. Sanders. The solution was to bring back the undersecretary title. After Mr. Sanders left, the title was eliminated again.

The Senate Labor and Human Resources Committee had planned to attach language restoring the position to legislation extending authorization for the National Assessment of Educational Progress, which passed the Senate last month. But the language was stripped from the bill, according to rumor because Republicans on the Governmental Affairs Committee had blocked the move.

Labor Committee aides said, however, that they had pulled the provisions not because they were aware of opposition, but because they feared it might materialize and delay the NAEP bill.

Aides said the provisions would be attached to another bill.

It is unclear whether Republicans on Governmental Affairs will oppose the bill. But Sen. John Glenn, D-Ohio, the chairman of the committee, favors the measure, according to an aide.

Another rumor suggests that conservative senators may oppose the nomination of Thomas Payzant to be assistant secretary for elementary and secondary education. The problem is that, as superintendent of schools in San Diego, Mr. Payzant would not allow the Boy Scouts to meet in school buildings because they discriminate against homosexuals.

A Republican aide said no active opposition has materialized, although some G.O.P. senators have received letters complaining about Mr. Payzant's handling of the Boy Scouts issue.--J.M.

Vol. 12, Issue 33

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