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Hearings Impaired

In June, the White House made the long-awaited announcement of President Bush's choice for the nation's top civil rights official for education.

Nearly six months later, the office is still empty.

The Senate education committee has not yet considered the nomination of Gerald A. Reynolds to become the Department of Education's assistant secretary for civil rights.

With the Elementary and Secondary Education Act reauthorization and annual budget bills still on Congress' plate, no hearings were on the horizon as of last week, said Jim Manley, a spokesman for Sen. Edward M. Kennedy, the Massachusetts Democrat who chairs the Senate education panel. Mr. Kennedy, one of the Senate's leading liberals, has expressed strong reservations about Mr. Reynolds' conservative views on affirmative action and other issues that the office for civil rights deals with on a regular basis.

Will Sen. Kennedy block Mr. Reynolds' nomination?

"He hasn't made that determination yet," Mr. Manley said. "But this person in particular he continues to have serious concerns about."

Daniel Langan, a spokesman for Secretary of Education Rod Paige, said last week the secretary "absolutely" was sticking by Mr. Reynolds.

"We expect a hearing and very much look forward to a hearing," Mr. Langan said.

Mr. Manley couldn't say when the committee might again turn to nominations. Jack Martin, the nominee to be the department's chief financial officer, is also awaiting approval, but the committee plans to move that nomination by year's end, Mr. Manley said.

The department has not yet sent the Senate paperwork to officially nominate Sally Stroup, the president's choice for assistant secretary for postsecondary education, or William Leidinger, the choice for assistant secretary for management.

The White House has not named a new commissioner of education statistics, a job filled on an acting basis for the past 2½ years.

—Joetta L. Sack [email protected]

Vol. 21, Issue 15, Page 24

Published in Print: December 12, 2001, as Federal File

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