WASHINGTON – President Bush refused to surrender the fight over John Bolton’s nomination as the new ambassador to the United Nations Tuesday, persuading the Senate GOP leader to soften an earlier statement that it might be futile to keep pressuring Democrats to buckle and allow an up-or-down vote.
While many Republicans are skeptical of Bush’s strategy, the president and Senate Republicans plan to step up pressure on the same Democrats who recently helped broker a deal to end the filibustering of federal judicial nominees, in hopes that they can strike a similar deal on Bolton, White House and Senate aides said. At day’s end, Republican senators and White House officials said they are now prepared to push this strategy for several more weeks – defying a widespread expectation earlier Tuesday that the nomination was doomed unless Bush circumvented the Senate through an unusual “recess appointment.”
Still, fissures within the GOP over how to proceed were made glaringly obvious by confusion over whether Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist, R-Tenn., is interested in holding another vote.
Before heading to lunch with Bush at the White House, Frist told the Associated Press that his role had “been exhausted” in negotiating with Democrats.
A few hours later, after Bush said he does not want to throw in the towel, Frist said, “We’ll continue to work to get an up-or-down vote for John Bolton over the coming days, possibly weeks.”