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SOME IN CONGRESS WANT O’LEARY TO BECOME A LESS-FREQUENT FLIER

SHARE SOME IN CONGRESS WANT O’LEARY TO BECOME A LESS-FREQUENT FLIER

Energy Secretary Hazel O'Leary is finding there are some members of Congress who would like to clip her wings.

O'Leary's frequent overseas trips became the focus of debate Tuesday among House and Senate members crafting an Energy Department spending bill."She has traveled more than the secretary of state, and she takes an entourage with her that's bigger than the secretary of state's," snapped Sen. Harry Reid, D-Nev.

Reid's outburst came as the lawmakers discussed a provision in the bill aimed at curbing the secretary's travels, or at least requiring the department to provide more accounting to Congress on her trips.

But Reid, who has tangled with O'Leary over a proposed nuclear waste site in Nevada, wanted more. He said O'Leary should be banned from leaving the country for a year because of her frequent sojourns, including trips to China, South Africa and India.

Sen. Bennett Johnston, D-La., said O'Leary's overseas trips helped to promote business abroad for U.S. energy and conservation technology companies.

"We shouldn't say that a Cabinet officer can't travel," Johnston said. "Next we'll be saying Congress can't travel."

Barbara Semedo, a spokeswoman for O'Leary, said the secretary had no plans to respond to Reid's criticism.

According to the department, O'Leary has traveled abroad six times so far in 1995 and is expected to make another trip to South Africa later this year with Vice President Gore. She also has talked of a trip to a number of countries in Latin America early next year.