September 5, 2006

Republicans to push for Bolton reappointment

By Vicki Allen

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - Republicans on the Senate Foreign
Relations Committee on Tuesday said they hoped the committee
will vote later this week to keep John Bolton as U.S.
ambassador to the United Nations, as Bolton picked up public
support from one of two wavering Republicans.

"We expect a party line vote to take place on Thursday
morning, with no change in schedule," said Andy Fisher,
spokesman for Sen. Richard Lugar of Indiana, the committee
chairman. Lugar later told reporters "it appears that way" that
all committee Republicans would back Bolton.

A spokesman for Sen. Chuck Hagel of Nebraska said the
senator held "a direct and honest conversation" with Bolton on
Tuesday and would support him. A spokesman for Sen. Lincoln
Chafee of Rhode Island earlier on Tuesday said the senator had
not reached a decision.

Committee Republicans will aim to stick together against
Democrats' opposition to Bolton, who has served as U.N. envoy
for the last year after President George W. Bush bypassed the
Senate and appointed him during a congressional recess.

The appointment expires in January when this Congress ends,
and the White House wants him confirmed by the Senate to keep
him for the rest of Bush's term, which ends in January 2009.

About 60 retired diplomats who served in Republican and
Democratic administrations signed letters to Foreign Relations
Committee members calling Bolton unfit to keep the job and
urging his rejection.

The former diplomats, who also opposed Bolton's nomination
last year, said in their letter that Bolton's conduct "has
confirmed our misgivings about his probable ineffectiveness and
his tendency to alienate others."

They said Bolton's "hard core, go-it-alone posture" has
hurt the United States in the world body, and said "with so
much at stake, our country cannot afford to permit John Bolton
to continue his destructive course during the next two years."

But Republicans, citing the need for a strong hand at the
United Nations during the Middle East crisis, have pushed for
Bolton's quick confirmation.

Bush could reappoint him during an upcoming congressional
recess, but Bolton could not receive a salary and he would be
viewed as being in a weakened position.

Democrats said they would decide after the committee vote
on whether to try to block a Senate vote on Bolton's
nomination, as they did last year.

They contend Bolton bullied intelligence analysts to
conform to his hawkish views in his last job as top U.S. arms
control negotiator and his harsh criticisms of the United
Nations made him unsuitable for the job.

But Bolton was getting help from the American Israel Public
Affairs Committee, the powerful lobbying organization that has
publicly praised him as a "strong advocate for the U.S. on
issues that matter to the pro-Israel community."