President Bush bypassed the Senate confirmation process today and appointed John R. Bolton as the new United States ambassador to the United Nations.
The appointment, while Congress is in recess, ends a months-long standoff between the White House and Senate Democrats who deem Mr. Bolton unfit for the job and have been holding up his confirmation.
“I chose John because of his vast experience in foreign policy, his integrity and his willingness to confront difficult problems head on,” Mr. Bush said in making the announcement at the White House.
Referring to the difficulty of the confirmation process, the president said that “partisan delaying tactics by a handful of senators,” had denied Mr. Bolton “the up-and-down vote that he deserves.”
The president has the power to fill vacancies without Senate approval while Congress is not in session, an action known as a recess appointment. Mr. Bolton’s term will expire at the beginning of the next session of Congress, in January 2007.
The move comes after 36 senators signed a letter to the president last week, saying that Mr. Bolton was “not truthful” while answering questions by the Senate Foreign Relations Committee in March, and should not be given a recess appointment. Some Republicans have said the approval of Mr. Bolton is long past due and that Mr. Bush is well within his rights to make the recess appointment.
Some senators, including some key Republicans, have also raised questions about Mr. Bolton over his history of criticizing the United Nations and over charges that he has tried to influence intelligence assessments to conform to his views.
His nomination has the support of the majority of senators, but fewer than 60 – the number needed to forestall a filibuster that Democrats had threatened until Mr. Bolton answered questions, particularly about his use of classified intelligence about conversations involving administration colleagues.
Democrats had also been seeking more documents from the White House regarding Mr. Bolton’s past service, a request that some Republicans say is not necessary.