Senate Democrats have pledged to hold an up or down vote on the Bolton nomination to the UN as soon as the White House offers up evidence the Senate has been requesting for the past several months. The White House has again rejected Senator Dodd's (D-CT) attempt at compromise. While the White House tries to blame the hold up on Democrats, it has only itself to blame for the delay.
Senate Impasse on Bolton Persists
The White House rejects Democrats' proposal to obtain information on the U.N. nominee. The GOP seeks the 60 votes needed to end debate.
By Mary Curtius, Times Staff Writer
WASHINGTON — The Senate standoff over John R. Bolton's nomination as ambassador to the United Nations continued Tuesday, with the administration rejecting what Democrats said was their latest compromise offer.
Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist (R-Tenn.) searched for the 60 votes he would need to cut off debate on the nomination, but it was unclear whether he would seek a Senate vote this week or delay the confirmation battle until at least next week.
Democrats narrowly blocked a confirmation vote on Bolton late last month, saying the administration was unfairly withholding information. At the time, Democrats insisted they would be prepared to vote once the administration answered questions about State Department disputes over Bolton's 2003 congressional testimony on Syria and about top-secret electronic surveillance reports Bolton sought over the last four years.
But prospects of an early vote seemed unlikely Tuesday. Sen. Christopher J. Dodd (D-Conn.) told colleagues at a closed-door luncheon that the administration had rejected a plan he offered over last week's recess to provide Democrats with information on reports sought by Bolton about National Security Agency intercepts of overseas communications. The agency electronically monitors such contacts on a regular basis.
Although it is not unusual for senior officials to seek edited transcripts of NSA intercepts, Bolton sought unedited versions that included the names of U.S. officials whose conversations were recorded. Democrats have said they want to be sure that Bolton did not do so to intimidate intelligence analysts.
Democrats have pressed for weeks to see the versions of the intercepts given to Bolton. Dodd said he had several conversations with John D. Negroponte, director of national intelligence, during the recess. Dodd then proposed in a letter to Negroponte that Democrats would prepare a list of names and submit them to the administration to be checked against the names included in the intercept transcripts provided to Bolton.
Negroponte said, according to Dodd, that he "spoke to higher authorities" and was told the administration could not accept the proposal.
"I got a response saying, 'No, they're done with it,' " Dodd said. "They've said no to everything we've asked for."
The White House dismissed Dodd's appeal as "another political stalling tactic."
"It is just more politics; it's not about documents," White House Press Secretary Scott McClellan said. "The Democratic leader of the Senate Intelligence Committee has already seen the information and said there was nothing improper."
Democrats have complained that the administration has refused to act on their request for the names of those who were monitored. As part of weeks of talks about Bolton, Senate Intelligence Committee leaders were shown the documents with the names edited.