A hearing has been scheduled for Carol Moseley-Braun before the Senate Foreign Relations Committee to consider her nomination to be ambassador to New Zealand. Jesse Helms (R-NC), Foreign Relations Committee Chair, who has stood in opposition to Moseley-Braun's nomination, has declined to preside over the hearing and has not committed to attend. Sen. Craig Thomas (R-WY), chairman of the Foreign Relations Committee's subcommittee on East Asian and Pacific affairs, will preside over the full committee hearing. Helms spokesman Marc Thiessen said that Helms customarily will relinquish the gavel to relevant subcommittee chairmen at ambassadorial confirmation hearings. Moseley-Braun will still face thorough questioning without Helms in the Chair but has stated she is looking forward to the opportunity to clear her name.
Helms is accused of blocking the nomination because of his 1993 battle with Moseley-Braun over the renewal of the United Daughters of the Confederacy patent, which includes a Confederate Flag, a symbol that Moseley-Braun believes represents slavery. Senate Minority Leader Tom Daschle (D-SD) and Majority Leader Trent Lott (R-MS) both predict that Moseley-Braun will be confirmed once her nomination come to a Senate floor vote. If the Foreign Relations Committee blocks the nomination, Daschle would favor a "recess appointment" by President Clinton that would place Moseley-Braun in the ambassadorship to New Zealand until the end of next year.