STEVE INSKEEP, host:
This morning, President Bush named John Bolton as ambassador to the United Nations. The appointment comes after Congress failed to confirm Bolton before it recessed for the summer. Speaking at the White House today, the president expressed his frustration over the confirmation process.
President GEORGE W. BUSH: The United States Senate has held thorough confirmation hearings and a majority of United States senators agree that he is the right man for the job. Yet, because of partisan delaying tactics by a handful of senators, John was unfairly denied the up-or-down vote that he deserves.
INSKEEP: We're going to get more now from NPR White House correspondent Don Gonyea.
And, Don, explain what a recess appointment means.
DON GONYEA reporting:
Right. The president has the power to fill vacancies and bypass Senate confirmation by making appointments when Congress is in recess. They went out last Friday. The president has used it in the past for judicial appointments. He's using it here. The catch is that recess appointments can only serve until the start of the next congressional session. That means Bolton will be at the UN only until January of 2007. So it's about 17 months.
INSKEEP: Was it a hard decision as far as you can tell for White House officials to take this step right now?
GONYEA: Well, the president says that there is some urgency. The nation is at war. The US has been without a permanent UN ambassador. So that's part of the argument he made. But, really, it does not seem it was that difficult. The president has been angered by opposition to Bolton led by Democrats but there have been Republican critics, as well. Ultimately, he wanted his man in the job after what has been one of the biggest fights of the Bush presidency, between the president and Congress. There have been those two filibusters. And, really, the opposition to Bolton came in two forms. There were those who pointed to allegations that he bullied subordinates at the State Department, and had intelligence reports altered to fit his own conservative views. Also, throughout his career, Bolton has been very critical of the UN as an institution, even at times questioning the need for its existence. But, the president sees him as his guy and wanted him in there so he took this opportunity.
INSKEEP: How are lawmakers responding?
GONYEA: Democrats have reacted with some outrage. For the most part, Republicans have praised the move, saying it was necessary, given the filibusters that have been used against the nomination. One Republican senator, though, George Voinovich of Ohio, expressed disappointment. He said he's concerned that a recess appointment will only add to John Bolton's baggage and his lack of credibility at the United Nations.
INSKEEP: And Voinovich, of course, was the most vocal Republican opposing Bolton's nomination.
Don, thanks very much.
GONYEA: All right. Thank you.
INSKEEP: We've been talking to NPR's Don Gonyea about President Bush's appointment today of John Bolton as ambassador to the United Nations.
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