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November 28, 2004
White House Delays Rice Confirmation Hearings

Does the White House anticipate problems with the nomination of Condoleezza Rice in the US Senate? Richard Lugar told Fox News Sunday that his offer of an early hearing in the lame-duck session was refused, postponing her confirmation debate until the new Senate session takes office in early January:

At the urging of the White House, a key Senate panel will put off consideration of the nomination of Condoleezza Rice to be secretary of state, the chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee said on Sunday.

Sen. Richard Lugar, an Indiana Republican, said he had suggested "a very early time" for his committee to take up the nomination, which must be approved afterward by the full U.S. Senate.

"The White House suggested that that would not be appropriate -- that is, in December," Lugar said on "Fox News Sunday." "So we'll not be having hearings in December. But we'll have hearings as soon as possible in January."

Lugar told Fox that he foresees no problems for Rice and the White House in confirming her appointment to State, but turning down an offer of an early hearing will raise a few eyebrows. Democrats have made a lot of noise about Bush nominating people for important Cabinet positions that agree with his policies a little too closely, a ridiculous argument in any organization. An executive needs to appoint people who support his vision and plans; doing anything else leads to nothing but confusion, mixed signals, and inertia, results we can ill afford during wartime.

I suspect that Bush wants the delay in order to both get a better majority in the Senate and to avoid the inflammatory suggestion that the popular Colin Powell is being given the bum's rush out of office. The delay indicates the GOP may anticipate more problems than Lugar lets on in getting Rice's nomination through the Senate, and they may be preparing for a replay of the Abu Ghraib hearings, this time on the entire Iraq invasion. It looks like they want as many friends in the room as possible when it happens.

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Posted by Ed Morrissey at November 28, 2004 11:08 AM

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