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House Rules Committee OK's Department of Education Bill

The House Rules Committee yesterday voted 9-5 to send a bill which would establish a cabinet-level Department of Education to the floor of the House.

The bill-H.R.--13778-is scheduled for floor action today, but officials on Capitol Hill said yesterday prolonged debate on other issues may delay until tomorrow discussion of the bill.

Bruce Wood, staff member of the Committee on Education and Labor, said yesterday he is "very cautiously optimistic" that the full House would eventually approve the bill.

The Senate overwhelmingly passed a similar bill earlier this year. If the House approves the legislation, the bills will go to conference committee and then to President Carter for final approval. Carter has frequently voiced his support for the measure.

A source in the Rules Committee said yesterday the 9-5 tally "is not very close for the committee," adding that both members of the committee who missed the vote would have voted in favor of sending the legislation to the floor for debate.

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The source said that "there will be every possible kind of non-germane amendment tacked on to the legislation" when H.R. 13778 goes to the House floor. "It will take a great deal of time to debate it," the source said, adding, "several members of the committee who voted to report it out will vote against it on the floor."

The legislation would essentially put more than 300 programs currently under the direction of 40 different agencies under the jurisdiction of a cabinet-level Department of Education.

Steven K. Bailey, professor of Education and Social Policy and President of the National Academy of Education, said yesterday he is "delighted" by the Rules Committee vote. Bailey said he could not predict whether the full House would eventually pass the bill, adding, "the people I talk to in Washington say they think that they have the votes."

An article in the Washington Post earlier this week quoted an official of the National Education Association-the group which has spearheaded the lobbying drive in favor of the bill, saying that more than 200 Congressman would vote in favor of H.R. 13778. The bill needs 218 votes to pass.

Robin Schmidt, vice-president of government and community affairs--who has made Harvard's opposition to the bill known in Washington--said yesterday the vote in Congress is expected to be very close.

Schmidt said the legislation "had a life of its own and never really got fully debated" in committee.

President Bok, who has stated his opposition to the legislation, was unavailable for comment yesterday.

Spokesmen for the American Federation of Teachers--the organization directing the lobbying effort against the bill--said yesterday that they are still working to defeat the bill on the floor of the House.

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