WASHINGTON - A growing number of Senate Republicans say John Bolton won't be confirmed as United Nations ambassador unless the White House turns over documents that Democrats say they need to assess Bolton's fitness for the post.
Though the White House continued yesterday to demand an up-or-down vote on Bolton, these Republican senators say the Senate is in a standoff that only President Bush can resolve.
"I hope the president will take a very hard look at the documents," said Sen. Lamar Alexander, a Tennessee Republican. "Unless we resolve this dilemma quickly, Mr. Bolton is not going to be the U.N. ambassador."
Alexander's comments came after Sen. Trent Lott, a Mississippi Republican, urged the White House to turn over documents to Bolton's two leading Democratic foes, Sens. Joseph R. Biden Jr. of Delaware and Christopher J. Dodd of Connecticut.
The shifting Republican views came after Democrats blocked Bolton's confirmation Monday for a second time. The Senate voted 54-38 to end debate on his nomination and move to a conclusive vote, but under Senate rules 60 of 100 votes are needed to end debate.
Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist, a Tennessee Republican, indicated Tuesday that after two failed efforts, it's up to Bush to break the stalemate.
The Republican senators' comments reflect increasing frustration with the White House's handling of the nomination.
Democrats want the White House to hand over an early draft of a speech that Bolton was preparing on the state of Syria's weapons programs. They also want a list of 19 names of U.S. officials and companies that Bolton requested regarding secret intercepts of their communications by the National Security Agency.
Biden and Dodd say the information would show whether Bolton tried to exaggerate Syria's access to weapons of mass destruction and whether he tried to keep tabs on officials who had policy differences with him - such as his then-boss, Secretary of State Colin L. Powell.