GOP Objection Delays Final Vote on Bolton; Voinovich Wary of Choice

The Washington Times (Washington, DC), April 20, 2005 | Go to article overview

GOP Objection Delays Final Vote on Bolton; Voinovich Wary of Choice


Byline: Stephen Dinan, THE WASHINGTON TIMES

John R. Bolton's nomination to be ambassador to the United Nations careened off track yesterday after a last-minute objection by a Republican on the Senate Foreign Relations Committee helped Democrats delay a final vote.

"I've heard enough today that I don't feel comfortable voting for Mr. Bolton," Sen. George V. Voinovich, Ohio Republican, told stunned fellow Republicans after about an hour of Democratic accusations against Mr. Bolton.

Republicans had gone into the meeting thinking they had enough votes to move Mr. Bolton forward for expected passage in a Senate vote, but Mr. Voinovich's potential defection, combined with all eight Democrats' opposition, would have killed the nomination on a tie vote.

Chairman Richard G. Lugar agreed to put off a final vote, which Democrats had tried but failed to do before Mr. Voinovich's objection, until after the Senate returns from a recess the second week in May.

"The senator from Ohio was a gift to the opposition," Sen. George Allen, Virginia Republican, said after the vote. "The reality was, a 9-9 vote would have killed that nomination. It wasn't worth getting a 9-9 vote, so you live to fight another day."

White House officials think Mr. Bolton will weather the delays.

"John Bolton is exactly the person we need at the United Nations. We're confident he will be confirmed," press secretary Scott McClellan said. "There are some Senate Democrats on the committee who continue to raise unfounded allegations. John Bolton testified for more than eight hours, he responded to a large number of written questions following his testimony. We believe he has addressed the issues."

Mr. McClellan drew a distinction between the partisan politics of Democrats and the position of Republicans such as Mr. Voinovich, who he said "continue to have some questions," and said the administration will work to answer those questions.

Democrats have accused Mr. Bolton of bullying a handful of lower-level government employees on a series of occasions, including trying to influence information that intelligence analysts approved for use in a speech he gave. Democrats have called for more time to investigate and tried to force a delay.

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