Republican leaders in the U.S. Senate say they plan to schedule another vote as early as this week on President Bush's embattled nominee to be U.S. ambassador to the United Nations, John Bolton, and are urging Democrats not to block the nomination as they did last month.
Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist says global issues, including upcoming elections in Iraq, and the need for United Nations reform, make it essential that the U.S. ambassador post be filled quickly. "It has been 200 days that this vacancy sign above our U.N. ambassador's door in New York has been blinking. It is now time to end that," he said.
Mr. Frist spoke at a news conference with fellow Republican Senator John McCain of Arizona. "It is very important that the United States be represented today in the United Nations," he said.
But Democrats, who blocked John Bolton's nomination from coming to a vote on the Senate floor last month, say they are still waiting for the Bush administration to turn over information on the nominee's use of intelligence material during his current tenure as undersecretary of state for arms control and international security.
"We have offered the hand of compromise on this issue, and all we have received on this issue is the back of their hand." said Senator Chris Dodd of Connecticut, who is leading the effort:
Democrats are concerned about allegations Mr. Bolton sought to shape intelligence to meet ideological ends. They want the administration to turn over internal communications leading up to testimony Mr. Bolton gave Congress on Syria's weapons capabilities as well as classified National Security Agency intercepts sought by the nominee that contain the names of Americans.
The White House has refused the Democrats' request, saying it has already been very forthcoming with information on Mr. Bolton.
The Senate's top Democrat, Senator Harry Reid, says Democrats will continue to block the nomination until the administration hands over the requested information. "As long as the White House is not allowing the information to come forward, there is going to be no change in the vote," he said.
Last month the Senate fell two votes short of the 60 needed in the 100-seat Senate to end debate on the nomination and move to an up-or-down vote. If Republican leaders can muster the support to win the procedural vote, they are confident Mr. Bolton will be confirmed by a simple majority in the Senate, where Republicans hold 55 seats.