Tuesday, April 19

Growing a Spine?

Moments ago the Senate re-adjourned and Majority Leader Bill Frist called for unanimous consent for a recess. Why? Well, it has to do with the Foreign Relations committee and UN nominee John Bolton. Committee member Sen Dodd (D) had become aware, on top of the various allegations of being a "serial abuser" and attempting to re-craft threat information regarding Cuba, that as Deputy Secretary of State, Bolton had requested access to secure NSA intelligence intercepts in order to "spy" on other members of the government. Dodd has requested access to the intercepts in order to confirm their contents and question Bolton on why he needed access to them, but the administration has been slow in providing the information, while the committee is scheduled to vote today and submitting the Bolton nomination to the floor of the Senate. In order to provent this vote and allow time to access the documents to be provided, Democrats have stated that they will shutdown the committee. Frist has attempted to block this by effectively shutting down the Senate and forcing the committee to meet.

Problem is, as soon as he requested "unanimous consent" to recess the Senate for two hours - Democratic Senators Boxer and Kennedy objected. This forced a quorum call, and a vote to confirm the recess. Right now I'm watching C-Span as the vote proceeds. If Republicans win, Bolton will likely to be confirmed. But if not...

All that is needed to block Bolton in committee is for one Republican to grow a spine and right now the most likely spinal transplant candidate is Republican Chuck Hagel who has stated his reservations about Bolton, saying that if just one more allegation [against Bolton] comes forward, he wasn' sure he could vote to confirm. Well this is one more, and there are other allegations involving Bolton's harrasment (screaming, chasing one woman through the hallways of a hotel and throwing objects at her) of independent contractors in Russia.

The next couple hours should be very exciting. Stay tuned.


Well, the meeting of the Foreign Relations commitee is complete and the results are fairly surprising. John Bolton's nomination was not forwarded to the full Senate, but neither is his confirmation over.

After a stirring presentation by Sen. John Kerry documenting how Bolton claimed that he has not had tried to have state department intelligence analyst Westerman fired, and how four other witnesses including Mr. Westermans direct supervisor Karl Ford (a Republican) had contradicted these claims, Republican Senator Chuck Hagel stated that he would vote to move the confirmation to the floor, but once on the floor he would vote against comfirmation. Chairman Lugar attempted to have the commitee vote to send the issue to the floor as soon as possible, despite further comments by Senators Boxer and Obama - until Republican Senator Voinovich who stated he had been unable to attend some of the crucial Bolton hearings stated that he couldn't in good conscious vote in favor after listening to the concerns brought by the other side. Without Voinovich's vote the commitee would have dead-locked at 9 to 9, so Chairman Lugar quickly downshifted from trying to push the issue out into the full Senate to making a deal with ranking Democrat Joe Biden to give more time to examine the Bolton matter, including additional testimony from the nominee and others witnesses and full cooperations from the CIA and State Department, starting in two weeks after the upcoming Senate recess.

As a result the Bolton nomination will remain in commitee - and under further examination may completely implode. Score one for the good guys.


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