Bill Frist said today that the legislative effort to confirm John Bolton as Ambassador to the United Nations had been “exhausted” and that there were no more votes on the matter planned.
After lunch with the President today, however, Senator Frist changed course:
Reversing field after a meeting with President Bush, Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist said he will continue pushing for a floor vote on John R. Bolton for U.N. ambassador. Frist switched his position after initially saying Tuesday that negotiations with Democrats to get a vote on Bolton had been exhausted.
Talking to reporters in the White House driveway after he joined other GOP lawmakers for a luncheon with Bush, Frist said: “The president made it very clear that he expects an up or down vote.”
Just about two hours hour earlier, Frist said he wouldn’t schedule another vote on Bolton’s nomination and said that Bush must decide the next move. Frist, R-Tenn., had said there was nothing further he could do to break a Democratic stalemate with the Bush White House over Bolton, an outspoken conservative who, opponents argue, would undermine U.S. interests at the world body.
But he changed his tune after talking to Bush.
What does this all mean?
The marathon battle continues.
Unless the White House concedes on document requests, the Bolton nomination will remain in permanent limbo. Because the administration has yielded on nothing regarding these requests, the media and others watching this process will not settle for much less than full disclosure and provision of the requested documents — viewing anything held back as material that demonstrates problems in Bolton’s record.
So many people are surprised by the White House’s intransigence on the documents that they believe that something seriously damaging must be in them. At this point, the White House has to make everything available — or nothing will be acceptable.
That is not likely to happen.
That means that the White House maintains a stance on Bolton that pushes a vote. The Dems “lock down” as Frist has said. And nothing changes.
That then gives the White House some excuse to make a recess appointment — but that would be yet another sad commentary on the White House’s refusal to take advice from the Senate that this person is wrong for the job and a flawed representative of American interests to the United Nations.
— Steve Clemons