The chairman of the Senate Armed Services Committee said Thursday the panel has postponed an expected vote on the nomination of Defense Secretary-designate John Tower, and another senator said additional meetings with the FBI were planned.
Tower, a onetime chairman of the committee, had appeared headed for confirmation after telling his former colleagues Wednesday that he had no alcohol problem and would not be swayed by past business ties with defense contractors.But Sen. Sam Nunn, D-Ga., while chairing a hearing on the Savannah River nuclear reactor, announced that the committee will not vote Thursday on Tower's nomination. He did not indicate when the panel might be polled.
The committee's ranking Republican, Sen. John Warner of Virginia, said additional meetings with the FBI were planned.
It was not learned immediately what the discussions involved.
Nunn had said Wednesday he expected the panel to vote Thursday to recommend that the Senate confirm Tower's nomination. Although the hearings for Tower have lasted longer than those of other nominees to President Bush's Cabinet, the senators have treated him politely.
In his testimony on the fourth and final day of hearings, Tower rebutted allegations made Tuesday by conservative activist Paul Weyrich that he had "on a number of occasions" seen Tower publicly inebriated and in the company of women other than his wife.
Asked by Nunn if he had a drinking problem, Tower replied: "I have none. I am a man of some discipline."
The 63-year-old former senator told the committee: "It is essential that the secretary of defense be at all times capable of exercising the duties and responsibilities of his office, some of which are even more sensitive and more critical than the general public realizes."
Panel OKs Kemp
The Senate Banking Committee approved on Thursday the nomination of former Rep. Jack Kemp as housing secretary. Kemp has agreed to give up more than $55,000 in speaking fees after being told he apparently violated limits on outside income for members of Congress.
Kemp's nomination by President Bush to become secretary of housing and urban development was approved unanimously by the committee and sent to the Senate floor for confirmation.
The committee also unanimously approved and sent to the Senate Bush's nomination of Michael J. Boskin to be chairman of the Council of Economic Advisers.