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Jones Passes Muster

What a difference a week makes.

Seven days after hearing Brian W. Jones defend his conservatism, the Senate education committee quickly and unanimously voted to recommend confirmation of his appointment to be the general counsel at the Department of Education.

The mood Sept. 13 was decidedly different from that of the Sept. 6 confirmation hearing for Mr. Jones, whose views on racial preferences and civil rights laws had drawn criticism from Democrats and opposition from liberal-leaning groups. ("Counsel Pick Seeks to Dispel Democrats' Doubts," Sept. 12, 2001.)

For one thing, the Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions Committee was struggling to get back to business as usual after the terrorist attacks earlier in the week. The chairman, Sen. Edward M. Kennedy, D-Mass., and other members took the opportunity to pay homage to the rescue workers who perished.

They spent little time discussing Mr. Jones' nomination before heading to the floor for consideration of a foreign-affairs resolution and an appropriations bill.

While Sen. Kennedy and Sen. Paul Wellstone, D-Minn., acknowledged that they still had reservations about Mr. Jones' views, they praised his testimony.

"I think he presented some important clarifications on the issues," Sen. Wellstone said.

Sen. Kennedy also said that he was happy to hear Mr. Jones express support for diversity initiatives and his pledge to uphold existing civil rights laws. And, Mr. Kennedy said, he was impressed with the stories Mr. Jones had told about his family, which pushed him to achieve in school.

"I thought he gave an extraordinary presentation," added Sen. Judd Gregg of New Hampshire, the ranking Republican. "I'm very excited we're attracting people like Brian Jones to government appointments."

There was no word last week on when the entire Senate will vote on Mr. Jones' nomination.

—Joetta L. Sack

Vol. 21, Issue 3, Page 27

Published in Print: September 19, 2001, as Federal File

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