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Bolten Proposes Nominations Deal

Even as he outlined a new Bush administration proposal to move dozens of nominations through the Senate, White House Chief of Staff Josh Bolten lashed out at Democrats over the issue in a letter to Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) on Monday.

In the letter, Bolten called the collapse of a deal to move a host of nonjudicial nominations proposed by President Bush prior to the Memorial Day recess “extremely disappointing” and warned that the nomination process should not be used as a political weapon.

Calling Reid’s pre-Memorial Day proposal to move some 80 nominations “extremely limited,” Bolten lamented in his letter that “an internal Senate disagreement on unrelated nominations” stalled the deal. “The resulting lack of any confirmations before the recess was extremely disappointing,” Bolten said.

Bolten, pointing to a number of foreign service and military nominations, as well as Bush’s picks for agencies with oversight of the country’s economic welfare, argued the delays are putting the nation’s security and economy in danger.

“All of these vacancies affect our Nation’s security and prosperity. It should not be regarded as an act of largesse or an opportunity for political advantage for the Senate promptly to take up the hundreds of pending nominations and give them an up-or-down vote on the Senate floor,” Bolten wrote. “This is the Senate’s constitutional responsibility.”

But Bolten, who has been negotiating with Reid for months to clear scores of nominations through the Senate, outlined an updated White House proposal.

Under the Bolten deal, Reid would commit to taking up all nominations that would expire at the end of Bush’s term, as well as a set of “paired” Democratic and Republican nominations to executive branch slots.

“Regardless of how we got to this point, it is my hope that we can now move forward with a renewed commitment to clearing all pending nominations,” Bolten wrote. “In that spirit, we propose confirming all nominations that expire at the end of this President’s term.”

“We further propose pairing and confirming termed Republican and Democratic nominations, notably Democrats: Jonathan Adelstein, Federal Communications Commission; Carol Pope, Federal Labor Relations Authority; Dennis Walsh, National Labor Relations Board; Bart Chilton, Commodities Futures Trading Commission; and Elisse Walter and Luis Aguilar, Securities Exchange Commission,” Bolten said in the letter.

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