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Dog Days of December

Amid all the analysis of how Congress and President Bush were able to reach agreement on education matters last month, one negotiator has been ignored: Splash.

The faithful canine companion to Sen. Edward M. Kennedy, D-Mass., the chairman of the Senate education panel, was a regular attendee at meetings to reauthorize the Elementary and Secondary Education Act.

Rep. John A. Boehner, R-Ohio, the chairman of the House education panel, called Splash, a Portuguese water dog, a "bright light" during the difficult ESEA deliberations.

"We really didn't start to get moving along until Splash [arrived]," added Sen. Judd Gregg, R-N.H.

Splash could not be reached for comment.

Rep. Boehner's name, meanwhile, has been bandied about as a possibility for the job of Republican whip, the No. 3 position in the current House GOP hierarchy.

That crucial vote-counting position will become vacant if, as is widely expected, the current GOP whip, Rep. Tom DeLay of Texas, moves up to House GOP leader.

But a spokesman for Mr. Boehner said he plans to remain in his current post.

Asked to assign letter grades to President Bush and his Cabinet at a lunch hosted last month by political activist Paul Weyrich, the president of the Free Congress Foundation, 75 or so conservatives gave Secretary of Education Rod Paige a C-minus.

Mr. Bush got a B. The more conservative Cabinet members got higher grades. Mr. Weyrich said Mr. Paige "threw in the towel on issue after issue on the education bill. The result is that we have billions more for education without any real reforms that Bush said were essential."

Mr. Paige's spokeswoman, Lindsey Kozberg, said the bill includes "major, major strides."

"What did get into the bill were serious, unprecedented options for parents," she said. "And we're going to pursue more options for parents."

—Erik W. Robelen & Ben Wear

Vol. 21, Issue 16, Page 21

Published in Print: January 9, 2002, as Federal File

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