President Bush is urging Senate Democrats to stop blocking the nomination of John Bolton to be U.S. ambassador to the United Nations, and allow an up-or-down vote on the Senate floor later Monday.
At a White House news conference with European Union leaders, President Bush called on the Senate to confirm John Bolton, saying he would help bring badly-needed reform to the United Nations.
"We want more accountability and transparency and less bureaucracy, and John Bolton will help achieve that mission," he said. "So, I think it is time the Senate give him an up-or-down vote."
A procedural vote is scheduled later Monday on the nominee.
But Senate Democrats are signaling they may block the nomination for a second time in two months, because the Bush administration has not turned over information they requested about Mr. Bolton's use of intelligence material in his current post as undersecretary of state for arms control and international security.
The White House has refused the Democrats' request, which it characterized as a stalling tactic, and says it has already been very forthcoming with information on Mr. Bolton.
Senate Democratic leader Harry Reid is signaling that fellow Democrats will not allow an up-or-down vote on Mr. Bolton, until their request is met.
"Unless the administration changes course before this vote is held, the outcome will be exactly the same as it was last month, and it may even have less support than it did before," he said.
In last month's procedural vote, the Senate fell two votes short of the 60 needed in the 100-seat chamber to end the debate and move to an up-or-down vote on the nominee.
Although there is little chance the procedural vote will succeed this time, Republicans are expected to use it to portray Democrats as obstructionist.
Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist says Mr. Bolton would be easily confirmed by the Senate, which Republicans control with a 55-seat majority, if the Democrats would allow the vote to take place.
Mr. Frist says it is essential that the United States be represented at the United Nations, at a time when there are daily reports highlighting the critical need for reform at the world body.
"Whether it is the billions of dollars that have been wasted in the oil-for-food program, whether it is the tragedy that relates to the refugees and their treatment in Congo, whether it is the issues of Darfur [Sudan], which is inadequately being addressed in terms of genocide being committed there, whether it is the human rights commission in the United Nations, which has countries, which we know are abusers of human rights, we need to have a strong ambassador there," he said.
President Bush did not directly respond to questions about whether he would name John Bolton as a recess appointment, and thus sidestep Senate action. Instead, he said the administration is focused on getting the nominee an up-or-down vote.
Mr. Bush could give Mr. Bolton a recess appointment during Congress' Independence Day break next month or during its month-long vacation in August.