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Monday, November 29, 2004

Overcooked Rice?

Yahoo! News has the following AP headline: "Rice Confirmation Hearings Postponed."Sen. Richard Lugar, Chair of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, revealed Sunday that confirmation hearings on Condoleezza Rice's nomination as Secretary of State will not begin until Congress reconvenes in January:
"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."
Odd, eh?

I'm trying to parse Lugar's sentence.

Would it be inappropriate to consider Rice in December because the current Senate is not as Republican as the new Senate will be? Should we prepare ourselves for new rules reflecting the new 55-44-1 majority? The Senate Foreign Relations Committee is split 10-9. I do not know if this membership is fixed. An 11-9 divide would better reflect the new majority.

Would it be inappropriate to consider Rice in December because the current committee membership includes Republican critics Chuck Hagel and Lincoln Chaffee? Maybe the White House wasn't confident they would get a friendly hearing?

CNN offers the official White House spin:
"It was our understanding that the Senate could not have gone through the whole confirmation process in December. We look forward to our nominees going through the confirmation process when the new Congress convenes in January."
Rice was nominated November 16, so Rice will certainly have plenty of time to prepare for the hearings.

The Washington Times reported that Democrats apparently intend to make some trouble for the nominee:
Senate Minority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., recently said Rice's nomination was not a "slam dunk."
Along with other committee members, Senator John Kerry gets to quiz Condi.

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