January 12 - Hartford Courant: Bush Uses Maneuver To Seat Controversial Nominees

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By Admin1 (admin) on Saturday, January 12, 2002 - 11:24 am: Edit Post

Bush Uses Maneuver To Seat Controversial Nominees

Read and comment on this story from the Hartford Courant that President Bush has made a recess appointment to Otto Reich as the State Department's top diplomat for the Western Hemisphere. President Bush makes this appointment over the objections of Senator Dodd shown in the photo above. Senator Dodd of Connecticut served as a PCV in the Dominican Republic. Read the full story at:

Bush Uses Maneuver To Seat Controversial Nominees*

* This link was active on the date it was posted. PCOL is not responsible for broken links which may have changed.

Bush Uses Maneuver To Seat Controversial Nominees

January 12, 2002 By DAVID LIGHTMAN, Washington Bureau Chief

WASHINGTON -- President Bush Friday defied Sen. Christopher J. Dodd, D-Conn., and named Otto Reich as the administration's top Latin American policy official.

Bush originally nominated the 56-year-old Reich, a Havana native who fled Cuba in 1960 and has been active in efforts against Cuban leader Fidel Castro, in March to be assistant secretary of state for Western Hemisphere affairs. But Dodd, chairman of the Senate's Western Hemisphere subcommittee, blocked confirmation and refused to hold a hearing.

So Bush, acting without comment, turned to a time-honored Washington device, the "recess appointment." This has been used for decades by presidents thwarted by Congress; it allows the appointee to serve without Senate confirmation until the next year's session of Congress; in this case, until January 2003.

Bush made another recess appointment Friday: Eugene Scalia, son of the Supreme Court justice, as solicitor general at the Labor Department. Scalia's nomination had been held up by other Senate Democrats who were concerned about his views opposing Clinton-era ergonomics regulations. Scalia had called them "quackery" based on "junk science."

The feud between Dodd and Reich had not only grown unusually personal, but also wound up creating a rare public rift between Connecticut's two senators.

Sen. Joseph I. Lieberman, D-Conn., who has long been sympathetic to the anti-Castro interests of Florida's Cuban community, supports Reich.

"He's capable of doing the job," Lieberman said. "He's clearly very anti-Castro, and it's important to have that job filled."

Dodd, an expert in hemispheric affairs who speaks fluent Spanish and once served in the Peace Corps in the Dominican Republic, has maintained for months that Reich was not qualified. He appeared to have prevailed last fall, declaring to reporters, "That nomination is not going anywhere."

But Dodd's views drew conservative anger. The White House also personalized matters when spokesman Ari Fleischer said last month that Bush deserved to "have his entire foreign policy team in place," and that Dodd was denying Bush that opportunity.

Dodd fought back, saying, "This isn't just about me."

Dodd was irked by a number of Reich initiatives. When Reich was a State Department official in the mid-1980s, critics said he ran a covert propaganda effort against the Sandinista government of Nicaragua.

Later, as ambassador to Venezuela, Dodd spokesman Marvin Fast cited State Department cables in which Reich asked Washington several times about the eligibility of Orlando Bosch, an anti-Castro figure, to enter the United States even though Bosch has long been accused of terrorist activities.

"To this day," Fast said, "Mr. Reich would not label Orlando Bosch a terrorist."

But some key Democrats signaled they would not put up a roadblock to the nomination. "I haven't seen anything that takes me over the ridge," said Lieberman. "I can't see where [Reich's] been involved in any illegal activity."

More important, Senate Majority Leader Thomas A. Daschle, D-S.D., indicated he would understand Bush's move to name Reich.

"I respect the president's right to make recess appointments," he said. "It's happened throughout our history."

Conservatives Friday hailed the move. Roberta Combs, president of the Christian Coalition of America, called Bush's action "wise."

Dodd simply issued a blunt four-line statement saying he regretted the decision. "There are many difficulties in Latin America," it said, "and it is unfortunate that U.S. foreign policy in this area of the world is being sacrificed for a narrow domestic political agenda."

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By Joanne Roll on Saturday, January 12, 2002 - 5:04 pm: Edit Post

So now what happens to the Gaddi Vasquez nomination? The one for which Dodd voted because he was reputed to be doing some kind of trade off to block the Reich confirmation? All the more reason to seek an independent and non partisan status for Peace Corps..immune from these political games. How sad to know that one's service is just so much political collateral!

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