Tags: Democrats | Target | Anti-Castro | Nominee

Democrats Target Anti-Castro Nominee

Thursday, 24 May 2001 12:00 AM

With the defection of Vermont's Sen. Jim Jeffords from the Republican Party, the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, which vets the president's picks for top foreign policy jobs, will have a Democrat chairman for the first time since 1994. According to staff sources on the committee, the Democrats will use the leverage to ask Bush to reconsider the nomination.

Reich, who had served as President Ronald Reagan's ambassador to Venezuela, is opposed by Democrats for the post, formally called the assistant secretary for Western Hemisphere affairs, in part because of his outspoken support for sanctions against communist Cuba.

"He won't be able to build bipartisan support for a sensible Latin American policy in part because of his passion and preoccupation with [Cuban dictator Fidel] Castro," one Democrat staffer claimed to United Press International.

"I think we will be asking the administration to rethink this one," a Democrat staffer on the committee told UPI.

The chairmanship, one of the most powerful on Capitol Hill, will likely go to one of three liberal senators, all of whom are said by committee sources to be "suspicious" of Reich. One of them has publicly expressed concern about Reich's fitness for the post.

Biden opposed that nomination on the grounds that Bolton was a critic of several arms treaties and said his views were "out of the mainstream" and not in the national interest. Biden's questioning was so tough it led the committee's chairman at the time, Sen. Jesse Helms, R-N.C., to tell Bolton to "hold your ground; they're after you."

Having survived the vote, Bolton will be the State Department's lead on negotiating any changes to the 1972 Anti-ballistic Missile Treaty. This pact, considered null by some because it was signed with the now-defunct Soviet Union, would stand in the way of the president's goal to deploy a global missile defense system.

But Democrat sources on the committee say Biden is considering asking for the prestigious chairmanship of the Senate Judiciary Committee. If he does, and lands it - and that is a big if - the ranking Democrat on that committee is Sen. Patrick Leahy - the next in line would be Sen. Paul Sarbanes, D-Md.

But Sarbanes is said by Democrat staffers to be eyeing the Senate Banking Committee. If he were to take that chairmanship - another big if - the foreign relations gavel would go to Sen. Chris Dodd, D-Conn.

All three men were in the Senate when the Democrat Congress investigated illicit arms sales to Iran to fund Contra operations against the Sandinistas in Nicaragua at the end of the Reagan administration. In the first term of the Reagan administration, Reich was in charge of the State Department's Office of Public Diplomacy for Latin America and the Caribbean. Reich and this office were accused of cultivating a network of well-placed U.S. intelligence officers to raise money in the United States to support the U.S.-backed war in Nicaragua. Reich says he did nothing wrong.

Copyright 2001 by United Press International.

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With the defection of Vermont's Sen. Jim Jeffords from the Republican Party, the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, which vets the president's picks for top foreign policy jobs, will have a Democrat chairman for the first time since 1994. According to staff sources on the...
Democrats,Target,Anti-Castro,Nominee
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2001-00-24
Thursday, 24 May 2001 12:00 AM
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