Bolton’s UN position in jeopardy
By Holly Yeager in Washington
Copyright The Financial Times Limited 2006
Published: September 7 2006 22:41 | Last updated: September 7 2006 22:41
A vote to allow John Bolton, US ambassador to the United Nations, to remain in his post beyond the end of the year was unexpectedly delayed on Thursday when a Republican senator said he still had questions about the nomination.
President George W. Bush’s attempt last year to put Mr Bolton in the job met fierce opposition from Democrats and some Republicans, and he used a special procedure to install the sometimes gruff diplomat in the post without Senate confirmation.
That “recess appointment” expires in January and, with the support of some senators who had opposed him in the past, Republican leaders had hoped to confirm Mr Bolton under regular rules.
But Richard Lugar, chairman of the Senate foreign relations committee, abruptly removed the nomination from his committee’s agenda on Thursday after Lincoln Chafee, a committee member, said he still had questions about Mr Bolton.
Mr Chafee, a moderate Republican, faces a tough challenge on Tuesday in Rhode Island’s primary from Steve Laffey, who complains that his votes are frequently at odds with Bush administration policy.
Mr Chafee voted against the invasion of Iraq and several tax cuts.
But, with Republicans struggling to hold on to control of Congress, most national party officials have sided with him in the contest, arguing that a moderate Republican with an independent streak offers the best chance for Republicans to hold on to the seat in the heavily Democratic state.
If Mr Chafee opposes the nomination in the committee, it could still move to the Senate floor, where Democrats could again move to block Mr Bolton.
The president could again use a recess appointment, but Mr Bolton would not be permitted to receive a salary.
Sean McCormack, State Department spokesman, said the committee could return to the nomination as early as next week, and he said he hoped all senators would have a chance to vote on it.
Bush administration officials have stood by Mr Bolton, insisting that his skill is needed as the UN Security Council deals with important issues such as Iran, Sudan and North Korea.