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New Members of the Chorus

January 11, 2005 2 min read
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A new chairman—Sen. Michael B. Enzi of Wyoming—isn’t the only change for the Senate education committee as the 109th Congress begins this month.

The panel will have a few different faces among its ranks, including Sen. Orrin G. Hatch, the Utah Republican and nearly 30-year Senate veteran who is best known as the longtime chairman of the Judiciary Committee, a post he had to give up because of GOP term limits on committee leadership.

Actually, Mr. Hatch is making a return to the education committee, which he chaired in the 1980s, when it was called the Labor and Human Resources Committee.

He’s had a long-standing friendship with the education panel’s ranking Democrat, Sen. Edward M. Kennedy of Massachusetts. In fact, a love song the Utahan penned for Sen. Kennedy and his wife, Victoria Reggie, for a wedding anniversary is getting a second wind thanks to the current movie “Ocean’s Twelve.” The tune, “Souls Along the Way,” plays in the background during one scene. (For the record, however, the song is not on the movie’s soundtrack album.)

Two other Republicans, both Southern freshmen, also have been named to the Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions Committee: Sens. Richard M. Burr of North Carolina and Johnny Isakson of Georgia.

Sen. Isakson in particular has had a lot of involvement with education issues recently. During his three terms in the House, he served on the Education and the Workforce Committee, where he was active in helping to craft the No Child Left Behind Act. Mr. Isakson took a lead role on the law’s provisions for reading. He also served for several years as the chairman of the Georgia state board of education before entering Congress in 1999.

The three new panelists replace Republican Sens. Christopher S. Bond of Missouri, Lindsey O. Graham of South Carolina, and John W. Warner of Virginia, who have all opted for other committee assignments.

There were no Democratic additions to the education committee, though Democrats are losing one vote—bringing the total to 11 Republicans, nine Democrats, and one Independent, Sen. James M. Jefford of Vermont.

A certain ambitious former trial lawyer from North Carolina will be missing from the education panel in the new Congress. The 2004 Democratic vice presidential nominee, John Edwards, had decided during his own campaign for the presidential nomination that he would not seek re-election to the Senate last year.

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A version of this article appeared in the January 12, 2005 edition of Education Week

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