Now you can figure out what the dems mean when they call for bipartisanship. What they really mean is that if you do not do it the way we like it or nominate those we approve of, we will be obstructionists. A side note to Sen. Reid of my newly adopted home state of Nevada; Don't let these obstructionists Dachle you. - Sailor
Democrats to Delay Rice Confirmation Vote
Jan 19, 4:41 PM (ET)
By BARRY SCHWEID
WASHINGTON (AP) - Senate Democrats intend to delay Condoleezza Rice's confirmation as secretary of state at least until next week rather than grant her Inauguration Day approval, a spokesman said Wednesday.
"There are a number of Democrats not on the committee that want to have a chance to debate her nomination a couple of hours," said Jim Manley, a spokesman for Senate Democratic Leader Harry Reid of Nevada.
He said Democrats would not seek to prevent Rice's confirmation as the nation's top diplomat, and he predicted her approval within a matter of days. Rice cleared the Foreign Relations Committee earlier in the day, 16-2, a lopsided vote that belied hours of skeptical questioning by Democrats critical of President Bush's foreign policy and his conduct of the war in Iraq.
By contrast, Manley said he expected that Democrats would assent to confirmation on Thursday just after the inauguration of two members of Bush's second-term Cabinet. They are Mike Johanns, nominated as secretary of agriculture, and Margaret Spellings, named to take over as education secretary.
The Senate developments unfolded as the nation's outgoing top diplomat, Secretary of State Colin Powell, bid farewell to the workers he called his "family" at the State Department. Powell has not yet formally resigned his post, and isn't expected to do so until Rice is formally sworn in.
"You were my troops, you were America's troops," the former Army general told the workers. "You are the carriers of America's values."
He called Rice "a dear friend" and said she would bring "gifted leadership" to the department.
Rice surmounted two days of sometimes contentious questioning - mostly by Democrats - on the administration's prosecution of the war.
Pending approval by the full Senate, Rice would be the first black woman to hold the job. The committee supported her with Democrats John Kerry of Massachusetts and Barbara Boxer of California voting no.
Other Democrats, including ranking member Joseph Biden of Delaware, had said they were reluctantly voting to elevate Rice to the nation's top diplomatic job.
At her hearing Wednesday, Rice acknowledged "there were some bad decisions" by the administration on Iraq, as Democrats pressed her on whether the reasons for going to war were misleading.
Rice insisted that Saddam Hussein was a dictator who refused to account for weapons of mass destruction. And it was impossible to change the nature of a terror threat in the Middle East with him leading Iraq, she testified.
Accused by Boxer of "rigidness," Rice responded that as national security adviser she had "no difficulty telling the president what I think."
But she also told the committee not to expect her to reveal any differences with Bush as secretary of state. "I want to be clearly understood - we are one administration, with the president in the lead," she said.
At the same time, though, Rice told the committee "I will tell you what I think. that is a promise I make to you today."
Biden suggested Rice also advise the president "to read a little bit of history" and to inform him that in Iraq "it isn't going that well."
Boxer would not be shaken off, even after Rice acknowledged to the Senate committee that "there were some bad decisions" taken by the administration on Iraq.
She accused Rice of "an unwillingness to give Americans the full story because selling the war was so important to Dr. Rice. That was her job."
And now, Boxer said, the toll of American dead and wounded is the "direct result" of Bush administration "rigidness" and misstatements.
Biden challenged Rice to acknowledge administration mistakes on Iraq and said he would vote for her confirmation, but only with "some frustration and reservation."
The Delaware senator, zeroing in on U.S. policy in Iraq as he had during Tuesday's initial hearing, accused the administration of giving shifting reasons to justify the war to oust Saddam.
Rice had steadfastly refused Tuesday to say when U.S. forces might be withdrawn from Iraq. And on Wednesday, Biden cited various rationales for the war, saying "you danced around it, stuck to the party line."
He told Rice that acknowledging mistakes - such as the claim that Saddam had weapons of mass destruction and was poised to use them - should not be considered "a sign of weakness."
Sen. Lincoln Chafee, R-R.I., meanwhile, urged Rice to consider reconciliation with Iran, which he said was about as repressive as China was when the Nixon administration approached Beijing for better relations.
But Rice said, "It is really hard to find common ground with a government that thinks Israel should be extinguished," supports terror groups and is undercutting U.S. peace efforts in the Middle East.
More than 1,365 members of the U.S. military have died since U.S. troops led an invasion of Iraq in March 2003.
But Rice has declined to estimate when even some of the 150,000 U.S. troops may return home.
"I am really reluctant to try to put a timetable on that, because I think the goal is to get the mission accomplished," she had said Tuesday, "and that means that the Iraqis have to be capable of some things before we lessen our own responsibility," she said.
Vote Delayed on Attorney General Nominee
By Jesse J. Holland
The Associated Press
Wednesday, January 19, 2005; 11:20 AM
WASHINGTON - Attorney General designate Alberto Gonzales will have to wait at least another week before getting a Senate committee vote on his nomination to be the nation's top law enforcement officer.
Democrats on the Senate Judiciary Committee decided Wednesday to ask for a one-week hold on Gonzales' nomination.
Sen. Edward Kennedy, D-Mass., said the committee should not vote on Gonzales yet because the nominee has not yet answered all of the Democrats' questions. Democrats have complained that Gonzales has been evasive with his answers to their questions about White House policies on the war on terror and they want him delayed until they are satisfied.
"If we are to meet our constitutional responsibility in the confirmation process, we must insist that Mr. Gonzales provide responsive answers to these fundamental questions," Kennedy said. "He should not be listed on the agenda for a committee vote on his nomination until he does so."
The delay means that Senate Judiciary chairman Arlen Specter, R-Pa., can call for a confirmation vote on Gonzales at the next committee voting session, which will likely be next week when the Senate returns from its January recess.
Gonzales, who served as President Bush's lawyer during his first term, is expected to be confirmed when the Senate returns after Bush's inauguration. He would be the nation's first Hispanic attorney general and replace John Ashcroft.
In written answers to Democratic questions on Tuesday, Gonzales said he supports extending the expired federal assault weapons ban. He also told senators he wants Congress to reauthorize the Patriot Act this year, despite complaints that it is too intrusive.