Today it is likely, though not certain, that the Senate Foreign Relations Committee will “report on the Bolton hearings” to the U.S. Senate “without recommendation.”
Such an action has only occurred six times in the entire 216-year history of the United States Senate, and only three of those cases have gone on to confirmation by the full body of the Senate.
The nomination will be filed “at the desk” for further action by the full Senate.
Normally, it takes a few days to “ripen”, or bring the nomination to the floor of the Senate, but this waiting period can be waived with a “resolution of unanimous consent.” However, that won’t happen in this case.
If Frist tries to bring up the Bolton nomination, Senator Barbara Boxer will object. That will slow things down a bit.
TWN has also learned that other Senators may have placed “private holds” on Bolton.
While Senator Boxer has been very public about her intention to put Bolton’s nomination on hold until the administration complies with key information requests made by Senators during their investigation of Bolton, this process is normally fairly opaque and private. While most of the media have focused on Boxer, nearly none of the media have discovered that there are, in fact, other holds on Bolton. These are behind-the-scenes and important.
These holds actually make Frist’s decision more complex as he not only has to steamroll Boxer to proceed on Bolton but other as-yet-unnamed Senators.
Frist will eventually seek to nullify Boxer’s hold, and perhaps other holds, with “a vote to proceed.” Boxer and other Senators will seek to delay through various parliamentary tactics.
While Frist does have the means to override these holds, he has a lot of balls in the air.
Frist will be juggling BRAC irritation in Senate ranks, the Defense Appropriations bill, a showdown with the Democrats over judicial nominations, and Bolton.
Bolton is in the mix of it all, and to TWN it seems highly unlikely that a vote can be mustered next week, though it’s not impossible.
If the Republicans are going to lose something in their battle with Democrats, Bolton will be the one they want to lose given their obsession with judicial appointments. Likewise, Dems have positioned themselves to be willing to spend a lot of political capital to hold the line on the filibuster and block some outrageous judicial nominations. There always exists the possibility that Dems will trade Bolton for some judges.
TWN would oppose that tactic — but to be fair, it is a possible outcome.
On the other hand, Frist doesn’t have many reasons to give the Dems much value for allowing Bolton to survive. Too many in his own caucus dislike the Bolton nomination — and it may be to Frist’s advantage to let Bolton get lost in the scuffle with Democrats over other matters.
TWN will keep you posted — but right now, the vote is possible next week and Frist will keep trying to bring it next week. The reality is that Bolton will probably be voted on after June 3rd if the White House presses on with this deeply troubled choice.
— Steve Clemons