Mr. Bush has the power to fill vacancies without Senate approval while Congress is in recess. Under the Constitution, a recess appointment during the lawmakers' August break would last until the next session of Congress, which begins in January 2007.
An end run around the Senate confirmation process would certainly annoy senators particularly Democrats at a time when Mr. Bush's nomination of John Roberts to serve on the Supreme Court hangs in the balance. It also could hamper Bolton at the United Nations, by sending him there as a short-timer without the Senate's backing.
"There's just too much unanswered about Bolton and I think the president would make a truly serious mistake if he makes a recess appointment," Sen. Joseph Biden of Delaware, the top Democrat on the Foreign Relations Committee, said in an interview.
Two officials, speaking on condition of anonymity because the president had not made the announcement and Congress wasn't yet in recess, said the president planned to exercise that authority before he leaves Washington on Tuesday for his ranch. The House recessed on Thursday and the Senate's break was scheduled to begin later Friday.
CBS News Correspondent Mark Knoller reports that CBS News also was told Bush intends to use a recess appointment in the coming days to make John Bolton the U.S. ambassador to the United Nations.
Earlier in the day, White House press secretary Scott McClellan gave the strongest indication yet that Bush planned to do so, noting that the U.N. General Assembly has its annual meeting in mid-September.
"It's important that we get our permanent representative in place," he said. "This is a critical time and it's important to continue moving forward on comprehensive reform."