Senate majority leader Bill Frist (R-TN) said Thursday that he hoped the Senate would vote on John Bolton's nomination to be U.S. ambassador to the U.N. "in the early part of next week," but Democrats were insisting that the administration turn over a number of documents concerning Bolton before any vote can take place, Reuters reported Thursday.[1]  --  The Los Angeles Times reported that Republicans believed that they need to swing two Democratic votes to avoid a filibuster on the Bolton nomination, but that "one of the Democrats the GOP is said to be wooing, Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.), said the administration's refusal to accept Dodd's proposal had made her more determined to vote against limiting debate on the Bolton nomination. . . . Asked whether she was prepared to join in a Democratic filibuster of the nomination, Feinstein said: 'At this stage, yes.'"[2] ...


By Vicki Allen

June 9, 2005

WASHINGTON -- The Senate's top Republican said he believed the Senate would vote next week on John Bolton's nomination as Democrats on Thursday renewed demands for more information on President Bush's pick for U.S. ambassador to the United Nations.

"I believe it will be next week. I hope it will be in the early part of the week," Majority Leader Bill Frist of Tennessee said.

But Democrats said they still had enough support to block Bolton's nomination, which has snagged on accusations he tried to misuse U.S. intelligence and bullied analysts and other administration officials who did not conform to his hard-line views.

"It is our belief that Sen. Frist does not have two new votes on the Democratic side. We don't believe that the vote count has changed," said Sen. Richard Durbin of Illinois, the Democratic whip.

Fifty-eight senators support moving to a final vote on Bolton, two short of the 60 needed to end a procedural deadlock.

Republicans, who hold a 55-45 majority in the Senate, are hoping to pick up two more Democrats on the procedural vote. If that is done, Bolton is expected to be confirmed with a simple majority.

Democrats insist the administration turn over e-mails and other internal communications leading up to testimony Bolton gave Congress on Syria's weapons. They also want some access to classified National Security Agency intercepts sought by Bolton that contain the names of Americans.

Top Democrats on the Foreign Relations Committee in a letter to the Intelligence Committee renewed their offer at a compromise on the highly-classified intercepts.

Sens. Joseph Biden of Delaware and Christopher Dodd of Connecticut said they had prepared a list of about three dozen "names of concern" that they asked Intelligence Director John Negroponte to compare with the 19 names of U.S. individuals or entities provided to Bolton by the NSA.

If there were any overlap, they said Negroponte could relay that to the Republican chairman and top Democrat on the Intelligence Committee, who would give the Foreign Relations Committee guidance on whether there was any inappropriate use of those names.

Democrats said this would shed light on whether Bolton sought names of Americans on the intercepts to spy on or exact retribution from his bureaucratic rivals.

Republican Sen. Richard Lugar of Indiana, Foreign Relations Committee chairman, said he saw no indication the White House was budging on its refusal to provide more access to the material.

"None at all. The leader (Frist) may be in communication, but I have no indication," Lugar said. "The state of play . . . is we are waiting for two more votes to walk in the door in some fashion to get to 60 and to have a vote."

Asked whether the impasse on Bolton was breaking, Frist said, "I just keep working on it."


The Nation

By Mary Curtius

** The White House rejects Democrats' proposal to obtain information on the U.N. nominee. The GOP seeks the 60 votes needed to end debate. **

Los Angeles Times

June 9, 2005

Original source: Los Angeles Times

WASHINGTON -- The Senate standoff over John R. Bolton's nomination as ambassador to the United Nations continued Tuesday, with the administration rejecting what Democrats said was their latest compromise offer.

Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist (R-Tenn.) searched for the 60 votes he would need to cut off debate on the nomination, but it was unclear whether he would seek a Senate vote this week or delay the confirmation battle until at least next week.

Democrats narrowly blocked a confirmation vote on Bolton late last month, saying the administration was unfairly withholding information. At the time, Democrats insisted they would be prepared to vote once the administration answered questions about State Department disputes over Bolton's 2003 congressional testimony on Syria and about top-secret electronic surveillance reports Bolton sought over the last four years.

But prospects of an early vote seemed unlikely Tuesday. Sen. Christopher J. Dodd (D-Conn.) told colleagues at a closed-door luncheon that the administration had rejected a plan he offered over last week's recess to provide Democrats with information on reports sought by Bolton about National Security Agency intercepts of overseas communications. The agency electronically monitors such contacts on a regular basis.

Although it is not unusual for senior officials to seek edited transcripts of NSA intercepts, Bolton sought unedited versions that included the names of U.S. officials whose conversations were recorded. Democrats have said they want to be sure that Bolton did not do so to intimidate intelligence analysts.

Democrats have pressed for weeks to see the versions of the intercepts given to Bolton. Dodd said he had several conversations with John D. Negroponte, director of national intelligence, during the recess. Dodd then proposed in a letter to Negroponte that Democrats would prepare a list of names and submit them to the administration to be checked against the names included in the intercept transcripts provided to Bolton.

Negroponte said, according to Dodd, that he "spoke to higher authorities" and was told the administration could not accept the proposal.

"I got a response saying, 'No, they're done with it,' " Dodd said. "They've said no to everything we've asked for."

The White House dismissed Dodd's appeal as "another political stalling tactic."

"It is just more politics; it's not about documents," White House Press Secretary Scott McClellan said. "The Democratic leader of the Senate Intelligence Committee has already seen the information and said there was nothing improper."

Democrats have complained that the administration has refused to act on their request for the names of those who were monitored. As part of weeks of talks about Bolton, Senate Intelligence Committee leaders were shown the documents with the names edited.

Senate Republicans pointed out that ever since President Bush nominated Bolton in March, the administration has provided the Foreign Relations Committee with hundreds of documents and access to more than two dozen witnesses. Bolton has testified before the committee, answered written questions and met individually with many senators.

Bolton's nomination has suffered a string of setbacks, most notably when Sen. George V. Voinovich (R-Ohio) joined with Democrats on the Foreign Relations Committee to delay an April vote on the nomination and then force the committee to take the unusual step of sending it to the full Senate without recommending approval. Voinovich has agreed with Democrats' portrayal of Bolton as a heavy-handed manager who intimidated intelligence analysts.

Senate Minority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) said Bush could end the impasse if he chose to. "This is not a standoff yet," he said after the luncheon. "It's up to the president. We're not the obstructionists. He is."

Three Democrats joined with the Republican majority before the Memorial Day recess to vote for cutting off debate on the Bolton nomination, but the 56-42 vote in favor of limiting debate fell short of the 60 votes needed.

Frist, who in a procedural move had voted in favor of continuing debate, this time would join the majority.

Sen. Arlen Specter (R-Pa.), who missed the vote, is expected to vote in favor of limiting debate. Republican strategists say that if they hold on to every senator who voted to limit debate and Specter joins them, they need to gain only two more Democratic votes to prevent a filibuster. They then would be expected to easily confirm Bolton.

But one of the Democrats the GOP is said to be wooing, Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.), said the administration's refusal to accept Dodd's proposal had made her more determined to vote against limiting debate on the Bolton nomination.

"I think Chris Dodd made a very reasonable and practical proposal," said Feinstein, who voted before the recess against limiting debate on the nomination. "At best, this is a questionable nominee, and I think the questions should be answered."

Asked whether she was prepared to join in a Democratic filibuster of the nomination, Feinstein said: "At this stage, yes."