Monday, May 9, 2005
The chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee said yesterday that he expects John R. Bolton, the contentious nominee to be U.S. ambassador to the United Nations, to win a party-line vote in the committee this week.
"Republicans, I suspect, will vote in favor of John Bolton; Democrats, I suspect, will vote unanimously against him," Sen. Richard G. Lugar (R-Ind.) said on CBS's "Face the Nation." That would send Bolton's nomination to the full Senate on a 10 to 8 vote when the GOP-led committee meets Thursday.
Lugar said he believes the vote, delayed since mid-April, will come off as scheduled. But he acknowledged that Democrats who want to get more information about Bolton have many procedural ways to stall the vote.
Four committee Republicans supported a postponement of that April vote to review fresh allegations against Bolton. Although none has indicated plans to oppose Bolton, it would take only one Republican siding with the committee's eight Democrats to create a tie vote -- jeopardizing the nomination.
One of those four Republicans, Sen. Chuck Hagel (R-Neb.) said on ABC's "This Week" that he has yet to learn anything that would keep him from supporting Bolton. But Hagel said he was reserving his decision until he has heard all the facts.
Bolton has been accused of trying to get fired subordinates whose intelligence information he opposed and of having a combustible personality inappropriate for a U.N. ambassador.
The top Democrat on the committee is still awaiting information about Bolton that he requested from the State Department. Sen. Joseph R. Biden Jr. (Del.) raised the possibility of trying to delay the committee vote if he does not get the material.
The documents requested include an accounting of instances in which Bolton sought names and details of U.S. officials whose communications were intercepted by the National Security Agency.
Biden also sought records regarding Bolton's assertions that Cuba was bent on developing weapons of mass destruction and that China was exporting weapons technology. Bolton has been the State Department's arms control chief.
"The real issue here is how far did John Bolton stretch the truth or try to stretch the facts relating to intelligence," Biden said.
Lugar said he continues to believe that Bolton is the right man for the job.
"I have no doubts in all the testimony we've already uncovered . . . that John Bolton has been blunt, some would say even more than that. Some would say intimidating, abusive, tried to get people fired," Lugar said. "But at the end of the day, nobody was fired. People's feelings may have been bent out of shape."
Lugar added, "Somebody that bends things out of shape may be needed to wrench around the U.N."