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GOP senator delays vote on Bolton

WASHINGTON (BP)–A Republican senator blocked his own party’s effort Sept. 7 to advance John Bolton toward confirmation as ambassador to the United Nations.

Sen. Lincoln Chafee, R.-R.I., withdrew his support for Bolton, an act that prevented the Senate Foreign Relations Committee from holding a vote on the nominee. Committee Chairman Richard Lugar, R.-Ind., called off a vote after Chafee told him of his position, according to The Washington Post. All eight Democrats on the 18-member panel oppose Bolton’s confirmation, meaning Chafee’s “no” vote would result in a deadlock.

In withdrawing his support for Bolton, Chafee told Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice in a letter he had “serious questions” about the Bush administration’s Middle East policy, The Post reported.

Another meeting in which Bolton’s nomination would be considered has not been scheduled, a committee spokesman said Sept. 8.

Chafee supported Bolton’s original nomination to the U.N. post last year, but opposition from another Republican committee member, Sen. George Voinovich of Ohio, held up action.

Bush made Bolton a recess appointment to the U.N. in August 2005 after the Senate failed to act on the nomination of the former under secretary at the State Department for five months. A recess appointment does not require Senate confirmation, but Bolton will only be able to serve as such an appointee until a new congressional session begins in January.

Bolton’s performance at the U.N. prompted Voinovich to support him this year. After Voinovich changed his mind, Bush submitted Bolton again to the Senate in an attempt to move his appointment beyond its currently temporary status.

Conservatives strongly support Bolton, agreeing with his advocacy for the spread of democracy and for U.N. reform. Bolton, who served four years as under secretary of arms control and international security at the State Department, has openly criticized oppressive regimes.

In 1991, Bolton helped with the successful bid to rescind the U.N.’s resolution condemning Zionism as equivalent to racism, thereby aiding Israel. He has called North Korea’s Kim Jong Il a “tyrannical dictator” and criticized China publicly for permitting its firms to sell missile technology to Iran.

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