White House Fills State Position; Senate Panel Protests Move

Article excerpt

Byline: Nicholas Kralev, THE WASHINGTON TIMES

The Bush administration has outmaneuvered the Senate to install a loyalist in the top arms control post once held by John R. Bolton over the strong objection of the Foreign Relations Committee, congressional and administration officials said yesterday.

The gambit means that John C. Rood, 39, a former CIA analyst who has served at the National Security Council and the Pentagon, will likely be able finish out the Bush administration's term in a post that includes responsibility for the Iranian and North Korean nuclear programs.

The White House notified the Foreign Relations Committee early this year that it planned to nominate Mr. Rood to the post of undersecretary of state for arms control and international security, one of the top positions at the State Department.

The decision followed the resignation of Robert Joseph, who succeeded Mr. Bolton in 2005.

But an administration official said the Foreign Relations Committee's chairman, Sen. Joseph R. Biden Jr., Delaware Democrat, and ranking member Sen. Richard G. Lugar, Indiana Republican, both made it clear that Mr. Rood would not get an up-or-down vote.

Mr. Biden's aides told the State Department there were far more experienced candidates for the position than Mr. Rood. The senator also disagrees with the nominee on almost all major arms control issues.

Mr. Lugar's reasons for joining Mr. Biden's stance were not entirely clear, and his aides did not respond to messages seeking comment.

The undersecretary oversees the arms control and nonproliferation activities of the entire U.S. government and "manages global U.S. security policy," according to the State Department's Web site. The portfolio includes the Iranian and North Korean nuclear programs, the U.S.-India nuclear deal, missile defense and other top-priority issues.

The White House considered a recess appointment but, after consultations with the State Department, decided it was not worth picking a fight with the committee, officials said. The White House already had promised the committee's Democratic leadership it would not to resort to a recess appointment in the case of Mr. Rood after an earlier bruising appointment battle.

That dispute involved Sam Fox, a businessman who funded the "swiftboat" campaign against Sen. John Kerry, the 2004 Democratic presidential candidate. When the Senate refused to confirm him as ambassador to Belgium, President Bush used a recess appointment last summer to send him to Brussels. …