Helms Vows to Paralyze Action on Treaties, Envoys

Article excerpt

Senate Republicans vowed Tuesday to block all treaties and ambassadorial nominations until President Bill Clinton's administration agrees to reorganize the State Department's bureaucracy.

After failing to break a Democratic filibuster of legislation aimed at saving $3 billion by merging three independent agencies into the State Department, Sen. Jesse Helms, R-N.C., chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, angrily announced the new strategy of not convening any meetings of his committee on any new ambassadorial nominations or new treaties.

Under Senate rules, Helms' move in effect blocks those items from any Senate consideration.

Affected by the freeze are 17 nominations for ambassadorships already approved by the committee and awaiting confirmation by the full Senate, plus 22 ambassadorial nominations that have yet to be considered.

Seven tax treaties and a U.S.-Russian arms control agreement also are pending before the panel.

Senate Majority Leader Bob Dole, R-Kan., said Republicans had agreed at their weekly strategy meeting to adopt the new strategy to force Clinton into negotiations over cutting the Arms Control Administration, the Agency for International Development, and U.S. Information Agency, whose roles have been diminished with the end of the Cold War.

Dole noted that Congress had put the $3 billion in anticipated savings from merging the three agencies into the State Department in the new seven-year budget plan aiming at cutting the federal deficit by 2002.

The Senate voted 55-45 in favor of breaking a Democratic filibuster that prevented the State Department bill from being considered on the Senate floor.

That, however, was five votes short of the 60 votes needed to stop the filibuster. …