Republicans may be forced to filibuster Bush's Swift Boat nominee
If Senate Democrats succeed in invoking an obscure law on recess appointees, Republicans may be forced to filibuster nominee Sam Fox, the controversial pick for Ambassador to Belgium that President George W. Bush appointed last week during the Senate's easter break. If they don't, the president could face a significant defeat in the Senate chamber.
A Senate Democratic aide confirmed to RAW STORY that some Senate Democrats were pushing to invoke legislation requiring the President to send recess appointees back to the Senate for an up or down vote within 40 days of the appointment.
"If it works out, the nomination would definitely be defeated on the Senate floor," the Democratic aide told RAW STORY. "The Republicans might not want to let that pass, and then they'd be in the strange position of filibustering their own nominee."
Fox, who donated $50,000 to the anti-John Kerry Swift Boat Veterans For Truth in 2004, faced certain rejection in the Senate Foreign Relations Committee two weeks ago. President Bush had suddenly withdrawn Fox's nomination before the committee met. But the President quietly gave Fox a recess appointment last week, a move which Senator Chris Dodd (D-CT), who is running for president, called "underhanded and an abuse of Executive authority."
In response, Roll Call's John Stanton reported last week that Senate Democrats were looking for ways to block the nomination. The obscure legal provision they considered invoking would require the president to resubmit Fox's nomination within 40 days.
A spokesman for the minority leadership said Senator Mitch McConnell (R-KY) would not comment on the possibility of the Republicans filibustering a vote that would be a certain loss for Bush's nominee until the Democrats made their plans clear. He also accused them of wasting time on the issue.
"Once the Democrats figure out how they want to waste time on this, Senator McConnell will decide how to respond," Jon Henke, a spokesman for McConnell, told RAW STORY in an e-mail. "If the Democrats want to waste some time in a pointless personal fight about the Ambassador to Belgium, Iíd only note that recess appointments are very common and we donít recall Democrats citing this law when President Clinton made similar recess appointments."
Even if Senate Democrats do not invoke the 40 days provision of recess appointments legislation, Fox could face other problems.
Although the State Department would not confirm it last week, Fox appears to be planning to work on a volunteer basis. Senator Dodd, with Senators John Kerry (D-MA) and Bob Casey (D-PA) wrote to the Government Accountability Office last week seeking clarification of the legality of having Fox serve without pay.