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Less of a Challenge

Sen. James M. Jeffords, the Vermont Republican who chairs the Senate Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions Committee, may have an easier re-election campaign next year now that a potential challenger has declined to run.

Independent Rep. Bernard Sanders, who was toying with the idea of running for the Senate, told supporters late last month that he would instead seek re-election as Vermont's single House member.

Both politicians have been popular with the Green Mountain State voters, and recent polls on the potential match-up had shown them running a close race.

Mr. Sanders, a socialist who usually votes with the Democrats, was reportedly promised a coveted seat on the House Appropriations Committee by Democratic leaders if the party wins a House majority in the 2000 elections.

Mr. Jeffords, one of the most liberal Republicans in the Senate, will still face a challenger next fall. Two Democrats have announced their intention to run for his seat.

Mr. Jeffords was recovering from back surgery last week to repair injuries sustained in a car accident two years ago.

Friendly fire from Finn

The conservative education pundit Chester E. Finn Jr. recently directed some harsh criticism at an unlikely target: GOP lawmakers.

Mr. Finn, the president of the Thomas B. Fordham Foundation and an assistant secretary of education in the Reagan administration, blasted the lawmakers for their handling of federal education policy this year.

"This was the first time a Republican majority has ever had a chance to recast the centerpiece of Washington's role in K-12 schooling, and, mostly, they blew it," he wrote in a Nov. 29 article in The Weekly Standard, a conservative political magazine.

He said House action on a bill to reauthorize the $8 billion Title I program for disadvantaged students simply "embraced the core Clinton strategy" of tightening the "regulatory screws" on districts.

Mr. Finn also criticized Republicans for agreeing to fund President Clinton's class-size-reduction program in the final budget deal. "[F]or the second year in a row, Congress caves," he said. "Once is a mistake. Twice is fecklessness."

—Joetta L. Sack & Erik W. Robelen

Vol. 19, Issue 15, Page 18

Published in Print: December 8, 1999, as Federal File

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