John Bolton’s nomination as ambassador to the U.N. has stalled in the Senate and the Bush administration is said to be exploring “other ways to keep him in the job after his temporary appointment expires in January.”
The situation represents a sharp turnaround from two weeks ago, when the White House was confident it could finally push through Bolton’s long-stalled nomination. But last week’s surprise move by Sen. Lincoln D. Chafee (R-R.I.) to delay a vote convinced Republicans on Capitol Hill that the nomination may be doomed, prompting a search for alternatives.
Administration officials said they have not given up. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice called Chafee yesterday to kick off a lobbying campaign that will continue today when he returns to Washington after his hard-fought Republican primary victory in Rhode Island on Tuesday.
Bush and national Republicans pulled out the stops to help Chafee win the primary, and they expect a payback. But with Chafee now preparing to face a strong Democratic challenger in a Democratic state in November, many Republicans said he has less incentive to support a firebrand figure such as Bolton.
One Republican official at the Senate Foreign Relations Committee said, “It’s dead as far as the Senate is concerned. Chafee made it a 9 to 9 vote, and that’s not going to change.” Another Senate Republican leadership aide added: “Chafee holds Bolton’s future in his hands, and people are very worried he’s going to squeeze and never let go.”
Republicans may be stressing about this — but it’s great news for Democrats who have never approved of the nomination.