WASHINGTON – Senate Republicans will make a second attempt Monday to break a Democratic filibuster blocking a confirmation vote on John Bolton (search), President Bush's choice for U.N. ambassador, Majority Leader Bill Frist announced Thursday.
Democrats said they were ready. "It's unlikely that (Republicans) will have the votes on Monday," said Jim Manley, a spokesman for Democratic Leader Harry Reid (search), D-Nev. He said the rank and file was united in efforts to gain access to information from the Bush administration abut Bolton, some of it highly sensitive.
Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice lobbied from a distance for confirmation. "It's time to get an up or down vote on John Bolton. He has answered questions. They have debated it," she said at a news conference.
"I have enormous respect for the deliberative process in the Senate but I think we're seeing ... a U.N. reform process that is moving ahead rapidly without the United States having a permanent representative at the United Nations," Rice said.
Even so, Republican officials conceded they are unlikely to pick up the two votes they needed to reach 60, the number needed to force a final vote on confirmation on Bolton, a conservative policy-maker whose personal style strikes sparks.
A second straight defeat could force President Bush to decide whether to withdraw the nomination, authorize further concessions to the Democrats, or possibly give Bolton a recess appointment during Congress' July 4 break.
Led by Sens. Chris Dodd (search) of Connecticut and Joseph Biden (search) of Delaware, Democrats want drafts of speeches that Bolton wrote in his former State Department job concerning the claimed presence of weapons of mass destruction in Syria.
Democrats also say they want to check a list of 36 U.S. officials against names — initially blacked out — that Bolton sought and received from national security intercepts he reviewed.
Sen. Pat Roberts (search), R-Kan., chairman of the Senate Intelligence Committee, presented a list of seven names to National Intelligence Director John Negroponte on Wednesday, and said he had been assured none of them appeared in the intercepts.
Roberts said the seven names seemed to be the ones that Democrats were concerned about. But Dodd said Roberts' list was not accurate, and it was not for him to decide which names should be checked.
"I think we've done a fair job, and the administration is just stiffing us," he said.