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Your name again?

Some members of the National School Boards Association began lining up more than two hours in advance to vie for front-row seats to see President Clinton, Sen. John Kerry, D-Mass., and Sen. Gordon H. Smith, R-Ore., speak at the association's legislative conference last week.

Once inside, though, an unannounced speaker took the stage on Feb. 1: Sen. Edward M. Kennedy, the ranking minority member on the Senate Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions Committee.

The liberal Massachusetts Democrat roused the attendees by promising to fight against any voucher bill in the 106th Congress. Fending off voucher initiatives is a major aim of the NSBA's legislative agenda.

"With your help, and your assistance, we will bury them this year as we did last year," Mr. Kennedy declared.

The veteran legislator, who got three standing ovations from the crowd, apparently made such an impression on NSBA President-Elect Mary Ellen Maxwell that she mistakenly called the next speaker--Sen. Kerry--Sen. Kennedy in her introduction.

It wasn't the first time someone misidentified the junior senator from Massachusetts. "Teddy [Kennedy] once introduced me as John Kennedy," Sen. Kerry told the audience, giving an impromptu impression of the late president.

Revisiting the E-rate

The federal E-rate program for discounts on telecommunications services and equipment is up and running. But that doesn't mean its critics in Congress have given up on trying to alter or kill it.

Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz., reintroduced a bill last month that would require schools and libraries receiving education-rate funds to install a technology for filtering or blocking material on the Internet "deemed harmful to minors." The Senate passed a similar bill last session as an amendment to an appropriations bill, but the amendment was rejected by the House. A spokeswoman for the Senate Commerce, Science, and Transportation Committee, which Mr. McCain chairs, said the "deemed harmful to minors" language is new and thus clarifies that sites such as those about breast cancer are not meant to be blocked.

On Jan. 26, GOP Reps. Tom Tancredo of Colorado, Pete Sessions of Texas, and Ed Royce of California sent out a "Dear Colleague" letter seeking support for a bill to end the E-rate, calling it a "backdoor tax."

--Joetta L. Sack and Mary Ann Zehr

Vol. 18, Issue 22, Page 17

Published in Print: February 10, 1999, as Federal File
Web Resources
  • Read the text of Sen. McCain's bill.

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