WASHINGTON – President Bush again invoked a constitutional provision enabling him to bypass the Senate and install a nominee who had been blocked in the Senate. This time, he named Peter Flory (search) to be an assistant secretary of defense.
The move Tuesday came a day after Bush used the same power to install John Bolton as U.S. ambassador to the United Nations.
The Constitution gives the president the authority to put an official on the job without waiting for Senate confirmation when Congress is in recess. The official then can serve until the end of the current Congress, which in this case is January 2007.
Flory was first nominated to the post on June 1, 2004, but the nomination was blocked by Michigan Sen. Carl Levin, the senior Democrat on the Senate Armed Services Committee, in a dispute over release of intelligence-related documents that Levin sought from Douglas Feith (search), the undersecretary of defense for policy.
Flory has been the principal deputy assistant secretary of defense for international security affairs. His new assignment moves him up to assistant secretary of defense for international security policy.
He would replace J.D. Crouch (search), who left more than a year ago to take another position.
Bush renominated Flory in January at the start of the new Congress, but Levin continued to block it. The Senate Armed Services Committee reported the nomination to the full Senate last Thursday. A Pentagon spokesman, Bryan Whitman, said Levin blocked consideration of the nomination by the full Senate.
"The Senate has had ample time to consider his nomination and hold an up or down vote," Whitman said. "This is an individual that is well qualified for this position, it's an important policy position. We're a nation at war. We're fully engaged in that effort."
Sen. John Warner, chairman of the Armed Services Committee, is recommending the president use his recess powers to install two other top Pentagon officials the Senate has yet to confirm:
— Gordon England (search), the secretary of the Navy who is the president's choice for deputy defense secretary, replacing Paul Wolfowitz, who departed to lead the World Bank, and
— Eric Edelman (search) as undersecretary for policy, replacing Feith.
England's confirmation has been delayed over potential conflict-of-interest issues surrounding pensions he holds from defense companies. Levin has delayed Senate confirmation of Edelman, a former ambassador to Turkey, over access to the intelligence-related documents.
John Ullyot, a Warner spokesman, said the Virginia Republican is confident England's pension issues will be resolved. He said Warner recommended recess appointments because he feels it's important that the Pentagon have the positions filled during wartime.