- The Washington Times - Thursday, September 28, 2006

The deadlocked Senate Foreign Relations Committee will not take up the confirmation vote for combative U.N. Ambassador John R. Bolton before Congress adjourns this weekend for the fall elections, committee officials confirmed yesterday.

But Mr. Bolton, whose recess appointment to the post expires soon, may get one last chance to save his job in a widely expected lame-duck session after the November elections.

“We have no more business meetings set and the time has just about run out,” said committee spokesman Andy Fisher.

Mr. Bolton, the State Department’s arms control chief in Mr. Bush’s first term, has been lauded by conservatives for his frank criticisms of U.N. inefficiency and his defense of U.S. foreign policy interests in New York. Critics say his blunt style has alienated potential allies and has set back the cause of U.N. reform.

Facing a fierce confirmation fight in the Senate, President Bush in August 2005 put Mr. Bolton in the U.N. post while the Senate was in recess. Under the Constitution, Mr. Bolton’s term will expire when the 109th Congress wraps up at the end of the year.

Committee Chairman Richard G. Lugar, Indiana Republican, told the Associated Press yesterday that Sen. Lincoln Chafee, Rhode Island Republican, remains a holdout on the nomination. The liberal Mr. Chafee, who faces a tough re-election fight in November, has said he would not vote on Mr. Bolton until the administration addressed his concerns about general policy in the Middle East.

Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice has personally lobbied Mr. Chafee in a bid to get Mr. Bolton confirmed. Mr. Chafee’s office did not return a phone call seeking comment yesterday.

Supporters say the nomination still can be taken up at a postelection Senate session.

Whether Mr. Bolton’s chances improve in the lame-duck session may depend heavily on the outcome of congressional elections, Senate aides said.

The foreign relations panel deadlocked earlier this year when Sen. George V. Voinovich, Ohio Republican, joined the committee’s eight Democrats in opposing confirmation, producing a 9-9 tie. Mr. Voinovich has said he will now support the nomination, but then Mr. Chafee balked.

Mr. Bolton’s supporters have privately floated several scenarios that could allow him to stay at his post. In one, Mr. Bolton could be named political deputy to the U.N. ambassador — bypassing the need for a Senate confirmation vote — and serve as acting ambassador at the lower pay grade.

A study by Congressional Research Service analyst Henry B. Hogue said the Constitution does not flatly bar a second recess appointment by Mr. Bush.

But such an action could offend senators jealous of their prerogative to approve executive nominees. Mr. Hogue said it was likely, based on recent practice, that Mr. Bolton would not be able to draw a salary in a second recess appointment.

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