- The Washington Times - Wednesday, May 11, 2005

Republicans say they have the votes to approve John R. Bolton’s nomination to be ambassador to the United Nations in committee today and send it to the full Senate.

But Democrats are still looking either to block a vote or sway a Republican to join them to defeat the nomination, saying they aren’t satisfied with the scope of the investigation into Mr. Bolton.

The Bush administration has a lot riding on today’s meeting after suffering an embarrassing setback three weeks ago, when Republican senators delayed a vote on Mr. Bolton in the Senate Foreign Relations Committee. Since then, officials from the president on down publicly have called for Mr. Bolton’s confirmation.

“We’ve been in close contact with members of the committee, and we believe that John Bolton will be voted out of committee, and that he will be confirmed on the floor of the Senate,” White House spokesman Scott McClellan said yesterday.

Committee Chairman Richard G. Lugar has scheduled hours of debate today, and wants a vote at the end of that.

But Sen. Joseph R. Biden Jr., the top Democrat on the committee, remains unhappy about a dispute over Mr. Bolton having wanted to know which U.S. officials were named in certain intercepted foreign communications.

The Delaware Democrat said the administration has not provided the names of the U.S. officials involved in Mr. Bolton’s request, which Democrats say was part of a pattern of his attempting to bully subordinates and colleagues into distorting intelligence analyses.

“They haven’t kept the deal so far,” Mr. Biden said.

Mr. Lugar, however, said any information the committee gets on the matter will not affect the outcome of the vote. He has said he expects a 10-8 party-line vote in favor of Mr. Bolton.

“The eight Democrats on the committee have indicated strong opposition. Maybe whatever they learn makes them stronger. But I would say it has not influenced Republican votes,” he said.

The Democrats could prevent the committee from voting by denying it a quorum, or they could hope to persuade one Republican to oppose Mr. Bolton, which could prevent his nomination from being reported out of the committee, denying a Senate floor vote.

Mr. Biden would not discuss Democrats’ strategy, but as of yesterday, none of the key Republicans had said they will vote against Mr. Bolton.

Sen. Lincoln Chafee, Rhode Island Republican, said he remains inclined to vote for Mr. Bolton, based on deference to presidents to get their nominees. But he said he is still open to be swayed by new information.

Sen. George V. Voinovich, Ohio Republican, told reporters that he wasn’t going to tip his hand. “At this stage of the game, we’re going to make that decision tomorrow,” he said.

Sen. Chuck Hagel, Nebraska Republican, said he will reserve final judgment until after the committee debate tomorrow. “I have said I want to listen to all the facts, and then I’ll vote,” he said.

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