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Confirmed: Senate will hold hearings on Bolton nomination, setting stage for new fight

John Byrne
Published: Friday July 21, 2006

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Fast-track: Hearings scheduled next Thursday after key critic changes stance

The Senate Foreign Relations Committee has confirmed that they will hold a fresh hearing on the nomination of Bush's pick to the United Nations, John Bolton, who failed to be confirmed by the Senate after his initial appointment by President Bush last year.

In a posting on the Senate Foreign Relations Committee website -- which has not been reported previously -- the Committee has publicly confirmed that they will hold hearings on Bolton's nomination next Thursday at 9:30 am ET.

A spokesman for ranking Foreign Relations Democrat Joe Biden (D-DE) said a notice went out this morning.

According to a Biden's office, the senator recently requested a hearing after the Chairman of the Committee, Richard Lugar (D-IN), indicated that Bolton's nomination might come up for a vote again. Bolton was appointed by President Bush during a congressional recess after the Senate refused to appoint him.

Now that one of Bolton's most vehement Senate critics has changed his tune, the hearing is likely to be more thorny for Democrats.

"Now that [Sen. George] Voinovich (R-OH) is back on the reservation and Bolton is seen as Israel’s biggest defender every day at the U.N., the White House sees a wedge issue in calling Biden’s bluff and embarrassing the Democrats by having a hearing after all," one Democratic aide to a member of the Committee said.

The posting says that the meetings topic is to consider, "The Honorable John R. Bolton To be U.S. Representative to the United Nations with rank of Ambassador and U.S. Representative to the United Nations Security Council and U.S. Representative to Sessions of the United Nations General Assembly during his tenure of service as U.S. Representative to the United Nations."

No further details were immediately available.

Former Bolton critic indicates his support

Bolton may well be confirmed. A key critic of Bolton's nomination, Sen. George Voinovich (R-OH), wrote an editorial in the Washington Post earlier this week in which he stated that he had changed his mind. Voinovich's vote against Bolton in the Senate Foreign Relations Committee kept Bolton's nomination from being recommended to the full Senate.

“For the betterment of our country we need to clarify our position regarding John Bolton so that the world knows we speak with one voice,” Sen. Voinovich said during a news briefing earlier this week.

Last year, however, Voinovich told the Committee that he thought Bolton was unsuitable for the post.

"What message are we sending to the world community when in the same breath we have sought to appoint an ambassador to the United Nations who himself has been accused of being arrogant, of not listening to his friends, of acting unilaterally, of bullying those who do not have the ability to properly defend themselves?" the Ohio Republican asked. "These are the very characteristics that we’re trying to dispel in the world community."

Democrats blocked Bolton using a filibuster after he was appointed by President Bush last year. Unofficial word of the new hearings was first reported by Steve Clemons on his blog, The Washington Note.