The Bush administration may be unable to push the appointment of John Bolton as U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations through the U.S. Senate, the Financial Times of London reported Thursday, on account of continued resistance from Sen. Chafee of Rhode Island.[1]  --  Unless the Senate votes to confirm him, Bolton's appointment will expire in January 2007.  --  The president will then be able to abuse the "recess appointment" provision once more in order to reappoint Bolton to the post, but this time the notorious Iran hawk will not be allowed to receive any salary.  --  Thom Shanker of the New York Times delved into some of the politics behind the delay.[2]  --  But he did not report one political dimension of the matter that was touched on by Jonathan Weisman of the Washington Post:  "Chafee's foreign policy concerns -- expressed in a letter to Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice -- could alienate Jewish voters and some Christian conservatives who tend to be staunchly pro-Israel.  In the letter, Chafee, who chairs the Foreign Relations subcommittee on Near Eastern and South Asian affairs, urged the Bush administration to stop Israel's construction of 690 new homes in two West Bank settlements."[3] ...



U.S. & Canada

By Holly Yeager

Financial Times (UK)
September 7, 2006

WASHINGTON -- A vote to allow John Bolton, U.S. 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 U.N. Security Council deals with important issues such as Iran, Sudan, and North Korea.




By Thom Shanker

New York Times
September 8, 2006

WASHINGTON -- The twisting route toward a formal confirmation vote on John R. Bolton as United Nations ambassador took another unexpected turn on Thursday when Senate committee action on the nomination was suddenly put off.

The delay appeared to represent the influence of international affairs on this year’s Congressional elections. Senate officials from both parties said the decision to scrub the vote in the Foreign Relations Committee at the last minute came at the request of Senator Lincoln Chafee, a Rhode Island Republican facing a primary election contest on Tuesday.

Mr. Chafee is considered a moderate and faces a conservative primary opponent who says the senator too often breaks with party ranks.

Senator Richard G. Lugar of Indiana, the committee chairman, said he routinely extended the courtesy of such delays when members requested additional time for considering important issues.

He did note that in this instance it had been “a Republican request.”

Mr. Bolton became the United Nations ambassador under a recess appointment by President Bush, bypassing the Senate after Democrats blocked a floor vote on the nomination last year. At the time, Republicans were six votes short of the number required to break a filibuster. The recess appointment expires when this Congress does, in January.

This year, Mr. Bolton has been criticized by Democrats, who contend that he has been ineffective at the United Nations and who say that he, in earlier federal roles, bullied an intelligence analyst and abused his authority by seeking names of Americans whose conversations were captured in eavesdropping operations.

Republicans have countered that Mr. Bolton has carried out the Bush administration’s foreign policy goals with discipline and energy at the United Nations. That positive assessment was cited in July by Senator George V. Voinovich, Republican of Ohio, who withdrew his previous objection and endorsed Mr. Bolton.

That switch was thought to have created a fresh dynamic to clear the way for a vote. Even late Wednesday, Senate officials predicted that the nomination would be approved in committee on Thursday.

Mr. Lugar said ample time remained before the end of this Congress. Asked whether further delay might impede the United States in pursuing its diplomatic agenda at the United Nations, he said, “Of course I’m concerned about that.”

Although Mr. Chafee gave no indication during Thursday’s meeting of how he planned to vote, he used a July hearing with Mr. Bolton to press for a fuller description of the Bush administration’s efforts to bring about Middle East peace.

Given the solid block of Democratic opposition to Mr. Bolton, the defection of even a single Republican would prevent the committee from sending the nomination to the Senate floor with the panel’s endorsement. The nomination could still be sent to the floor without a recommendation.

Senator Christopher J. Dodd, Democrat of Connecticut, said Democrats might again prepare to filibuster.



By Jonathan Weisman

Washington Post
September 8, 2006
Page A03

Republican efforts to formally confirm John R. Bolton as ambassador to the United Nations hit an unexpected snag yesterday when a Republican senator in a tough reelection bid said he could not support the diplomat until the Bush administration answers his questions on Middle East policy.

The protest by Sen. Lincoln D. Chafee (R.I.) is only the latest development in the long-running battle to get Bolton confirmed to the post he now holds on a temporary basis. Last year, Chafee supported Bolton's confirmation, but the opposition of Sen. George V. Voinovich (R-Ohio) prompted President Bush to name him to the U.N. post as a recess appointment.

This summer, Voinovich declared that his concerns over Bolton's temperament have been satisfactorily answered by the diplomat's performance at the United Nations. That conversion prompted Bush and GOP leaders to resubmit Bolton's name for confirmation. But Chafee informed Senate Foreign Relations Committee Chairman Richard G. Lugar (R-Ind.) of his change of heart yesterday, forcing Lugar to call off the confirmation vote or face the possibility of a 9 to 9 deadlock in the 18-member panel.

Chafee is fighting for his political life. Next Tuesday, Rhode Island primary voters must decide between Chafee, the Senate's most liberal Republican, and Cranston Mayor Stephen Laffey, who is challenging him from the right. If Chafee survives the GOP primary, he must then win reelection in one of the most Democratic states in the country.

Stephen Hourahan, Chafee's spokesman, said the senator's move against Bolton was not motivated by politics, noting that Chafee remains in a political bind. The move might play well with Democratic voters in November, he acknowledged, but next week it could enflame Republican primary voters already drawn to Laffey.

"Unfortunately, there was no win on this one," Hourahan said.

Moreover, Chafee's foreign policy concerns -- expressed in a letter to Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice -- could alienate Jewish voters and some Christian conservatives who tend to be staunchly pro-Israel. In the letter, Chafee, who chairs the Foreign Relations subcommittee on Near Eastern and South Asian affairs, urged the Bush administration to stop Israel's construction of 690 new homes in two West Bank settlements.

"It is no secret that I have serious questions about this Administration's policies in the Middle East," Chafee wrote.

But victory in the primary will probably be decided by independent voters, not party stalwarts, and burnishing his independent credentials may be a help. In a new campaign advertisement airing in Rhode Island, a character labels the senator "independent minded" before Chafee states: "I believe that neither Republicans nor Democrats are always right."

Republican leadership aides said GOP leaders are willing to give Chafee some room to maneuver ahead of Tuesday's primary. But they indicated they will probably push for a vote after the polls close next week.