Frustrated by Senate Democrats, the White House hinted Monday that President Bush may act soon to sidestep Congress and install embattled nominee John Bolton (search) as ambassador to the United Nations (search) on a temporary basis.
White House press secretary Scott McClellan said Bush has used his power for temporary appointments when "he has to get people in place that have waited far too long to get about doing their business." He said that "sometimes there's come a point" when Bush has decided he needs to act.
Bolton's nomination has been stalled for months. Critics say Bolton, who has been accused of mistreating subordinates and who has been openly skeptical about the U.N., would hurt U.S. efforts to work with other countries on global matters. The administration says the tough-talking Bolton is ideally suited to lead an effort to overhaul the U.N. bureaucracy and make it more accountable.
Bush could put Bolton on the job by exercising his authority to make a recess appointment (search), an avenue available to the president when Congress is in recess. Lawmakers are expected to leave Friday for a summer recess and not return until Sept. 7.
Under the Constitution, the appointment would last until the end of the next session of Congress — no later than January 2007.
Republicans have twice attempted — and failed — to break a Democratic filibuster (search) against Bolton's nomination. The White House has ruled out withdrawing Bolton's name, and has called repeatedly for a vote on his nomination.
Some in Washington had expected Bush to give Bolton a recess appointment over the Senate's July Fourth break. But Republicans said negotiations with Democrats were ongoing, and a recess appointment, should it come to that, probably wouldn't occur until August. There has been no sign of a breakthrough in recent days.