WASHINGTON – John Bolton's long quest to break away from the recess appointment that sent him to the United Nations got longer Thursday.
Sen. Richard Lugar, chairman of the Foreign Relations Committee, said the Senate likely will recess later this week without voting on him. Lugar, R-Ind., said in an interview with The Associated Press that no meeting had been scheduled to take up the controversial nominee.
The Senate is expected to return after the congressional elections in November. Bolton has been serving as the U.S. ambassador to the U.N. under a recess appointment that is due to expire at the end of the year.
Lugar said that if one Democratic senator were to step forward and support Bolton, he might be able to set a committee vote before the recess. In the meantime, Lugar added, Sen. Lincoln Chafee, a Rhode Island Republican, is holding up the nomination with questions about the Bush administration's Middle East policy.
Specifically, Chafee wants the administration to restrain Israel from expanding settlements in Palestinian areas on the West Bank. Bolton, as U.S. ambassador, has taken a strong and visible role in across-the-board support for Israel.
As a result, Lugar said, "it appears very likely the committee will not act" on Bolton's nomination before recess at the end of the week. "Most probably not," Lugar said.
Earlier in the month, the committee unexpectedly postponed a vote on confirming Bolton as U.N. ambassador when Chafee, who was in a tough Republican primary fight at home, said he had more questions.
The committee had been expected to vote along party lines to approve Bolton, whom Bush appointed temporarily to the post last year over opposition by Democrats and a few Republicans.
Chafee won the primary against a conservative GOP challenger. .
Chafee's opponent in the primary, Cranston Mayor Steve Laffey, chastised the senator at the time, saying, "Once again, Senator Chafee has demonstrated how indecisive he is on the critical issues."
Republicans control the Foreign Relations Committee by 10-8. A tie vote is not enough to advance a nomination to the full Senate.