June 21, 2005
Voinovich deserts GOP on Bolton
By Paul M. Krawzak
Copley News Service
WASHINGTON — Ohio Sen. George Voinovich on Monday opposed bringing President Bush’s nomination of John Bolton as United Nations ambassador to a confirmation vote in the Senate, reversing his earlier opposition to a largely Democratic filibuster against the controversial diplomat.
The attempt to limit debate and bring Bolton’s nomination to a vote failed 54-38, as 60 votes are needed to end the delaying tactic known as a filibuster.
Voinovich was the only Republican who opposed ending the filibuster. Ohio’s other senator, Republican Mike DeWine, voted with almost every other Republican and three Democratic senators to bring the nomination to a vote.
Although Voinovich has strongly opposed Bolton since May 12 when he made an emotional pitch to defeat the nomination, he had until Monday favored a full Senate vote on the nominee known for his blunt style.
In a written statement explaining why he joined a majority of Democrats to block a vote, Voinovich described his increasing concerns with Bolton and the importance of public diplomacy.
Noting recent criticism of what some have called mistreatment of prisoners at Guantanamo Bay, Voinovich said, “I believe that at this critical time, when U.S. credibility is being called into question and, as a result, our security is being threatened, we should not send an ambassador to the U.N. who is an ideologue and who lacks the credibility to be effective.”
He also said he was concerned that Bolton’s “ineffectiveness” could hurt U.S. efforts to end nuclear weapons programs in North Korea and possibly Iran.
Voinovich voted to bring the nomination to a full Senate vote May 26. That effort to end debate failed 56-42.
He was opposed to a filibuster May 12, when asked if he would support one.
“No I would not,” he said. “I think we ought to have a robust debate. I would insist that we have adequate time so that we would all express our opinion on this. And once that’s done, I think that we ought to vote.”
In his statement Monday, however, Voinovich said he opposed a vote in the Senate and hoped Bush would choose another nominee for the United Nations rather than appointing Bolton to the post after Congress takes its Fourth of July break.
Under an authority that is infrequently used, the president could install Bolton as ambassador through a recess appointment, which would expire in January 2007.