Senate GOP leader orders `second look' at U.N. nominee

Holbrooke's nomination could be further delayed

July 23, 1999|By NEW YORK TIMES NEWS SERVICE

WASHINGTON -- Senate Majority Leader Trent Lott has ordered his staff to take a "second look" at the nomination of Richard C. Holbrooke to be United Nations ambassador to determine if the veteran diplomat is fit for the post, the senator's office said yesterday.

The "second look" by the Mississippi Republican could mean additional delays in the long-stalled nomination.

And while the senator's staff said again that Lott expected Holbrooke to be confirmed eventually, the statement yesterday carried an implicit threat that the senator might still use his powers as majority leader to kill the nomination.

Lott said through a spokesman that he had ordered a thorough review of Holbrooke's fitness for the U.N. post because he was "suspicious" of efforts by other senators and the Clinton administration to "rush this nomination through."

The president announced the nomination of Holbrooke in June 1998.

After delays for investigations into possible irregularities, the nomination was forwarded to the Senate in February. Last month, the Senate Foreign Relations Committee approved Holbrooke's nomination on a unanimous voice vote.

Lott's spokesman, John Czwartacki, said the "second look" would be broad -- "it's A to Z" and would include a review of Holbrooke's leading role in the Clinton administration's Balkan policy and of the findings of a Justice Department ethics investigation of Holbrooke.

The White House said yesterday that the Senate should end what it has described as politically inspired delays and vote quickly to confirm Holbrooke, a former U.S. ambassador to Germany and the architect of the 1995 peace agreement that ended the war in Bosnia.

"We want an expeditious vote on Ambassador Holbrooke's nomination," said David Leavy, a spokesman for the National Security Council.

"If there's any question about why we need to have his vast skills at the United Nations, look around the world, from Iraq to China to Kosovo," Leavy said.

A spokeswoman for Holbrooke had no comment yesterday.

Pub Date: 7/23/99

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