A Senate committee postponed until Monday a hearing on John R. Bolton’s nomination as U.S. ambassador to the United Nations, with a spokesman saying several members would be attending Pope John Paul II’s funeral.
The Senate Foreign Relations Committee hearing, set for today, was delayed as the vote of a pivotal Republican seemed uncertain. Mr. Bolton faces opposition for stands he has taken as undersecretary of state for arms control and for his outspoken criticism of the United Nations.
His chances of approval could hinge on the vote of Sen. Lincoln Chafee, Rhode Island Republican. If Democrats are united against confirmation and Mr. Chafee joins them, Mr. Bolton’s chances of going to the United Nations could be damaged.
“The senator has not made up his mind. He’s waiting to hear on the record what is said and then he’ll decide. But we’re inclined to support the nomination. That’s where we are,” Stephen Hourahan, a spokesman for the senator, said yesterday.
Republicans hold a 10-8 edge on the committee. Bills and nominations need a majority vote for a committee to send them to the full Senate, though the committee can reconsider a failed vote at a later time.
The committee’s spokesman, Andy Fisher, said the postponement involved an agreement with Democrats that action on Mr. Bolton by the committee would be completed next week.
President Bush’s nomination of Mr. Bolton, a blunt-speaking hard-liner, has stirred unusual controversy among diplomats.
Five former secretaries of state urged the Senate on Tuesday to confirm Mr. Bolton. Scores of retired diplomats have lined up on both sides. Opponents cite his stands against several arms-control treaties and his past criticism of the United Nations.