Thursday, May 26, 2005

Republican senator urges vote against Bolton

Yahoo! News
Republican senator urges vote against Bolton

A Republican senator tried to convince his colleagues on Wednesday to reject John Bolton as U.S. ambassador to the United Nations as the Senate headed toward a vote on President Bush's contentious pick.

Sen. George Voinovich of Ohio, the one Republican to openly oppose Bolton, urged senators not to vote for him simply out of loyalty to the president. Voinovich said they should consider whether he had shown a record of abusive, erratic behavior that should disqualify him for the sensitive diplomatic job.

Other Republicans rose to Bolton's defense, and the White House said it was confident he would be confirmed.

"Opponents have argued that Secretary Bolton's personality will prevent him from being effective at the U.N., but his diplomatic successes over the last four years belie that expectation," said Richard Lugar of Indiana, chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee.

Republicans aimed for a vote on Thursday on Bolton, currently the top U.S. diplomat for arms control, and expected he would be confirmed largely along party lines.

But at Democrats' insistence, the Senate was slated to hold a procedural vote on Thursday that could delay his confirmation until after Congress' Memorial Day recess next week.

If they fail to get the 41 votes out of 100 required to extend the debate on the nomination, Democrats agreed to go immediately to a vote on Bolton on Thursday.

Democrats wanted time to make a last demand the administration turn over documents they said would shed more light on whether Bolton tried to tamper with intelligence assessments.

If the Senate fails to insist on the information, "We weaken the ability of this place to do its job. And that's really what's at stake in the debate here," said Connecticut Democrat Christopher Dodd.

Democrats, joined by Voinovich, contend Bolton is a hard-line conservative ideologue and a bully who tried to pressure intelligence officials into making their findings support his political views.

Dodd and Joseph Biden of Delaware, top Foreign Relations Committee Democrat, said they did not intend to block the nomination with the procedural hurdle known as a filibuster, but wanted to take a stand on the Senate's right to information on a nominee.

Voinovich said in a floor speech he feared Bolton would be an impediment to getting reforms at the United Nations. He expressed concern some U.N. members "will use Mr. Bolton as part of their agenda to further question the integrity and credibility of the United States of America and to reinforce their negative U.S. propaganda."


Bush has conducted a high-profile defense of his embattled nominee, whom he calls the right choice to press for reforms at the United Nations.

"We're confident that John Bolton will be confirmed and there are many in the Senate who believe that he is the right person for this position," White House spokesman Scott McClellan said.

Biden said the administration documents would provide insights into whether Bolton tried to influence intelligence assessments of Syria and whether he reviewed communications intercepted by the National Security Agency to exact retribution on his opponents.

The White House and most Republicans have said senators had seen more than enough information to decide on Bolton, and accused Democrats of deliberately stalling the nomination.