Roll Call: Latest News on Capitol Hill, Congress, Politics and Elections
February 14, 2016

No U.S. Ambassador to U.N. Organization That Could Investigate Malaysia Airlines Crash (Video)

A picture taken on July 17 shows a Malaysia Airlines closed counter at the Schiphol airport near Amsterdam after a Malaysian airliner crashed in rebel-held eastern Ukraine. Malaysia Airlines said on July 17 it had "lost contact" with one of its passenger planes whose last known position was over eastern Ukraine, amid speculation it had been shot down. The plane went missing with 239 passengers and crew on board and is now believed to have diverted off its flight path and crashed in the remote Indian Ocean. (Olaf Kraak/AFP/Getty Images)

A picture taken on July 17 shows a Malaysia Airlines closed counter at the Schiphol airport near Amsterdam after a Malaysian airliner crashed in rebel-held eastern Ukraine. The plane went missing with 239 passengers and crew on board.
(Olaf Kraak/AFP/Getty Images)

Updated 6:25 p.m. The United States has not sent an ambassador to the U.N. International Civil Aviation Organization, which has, in the past, investigated air disasters like the one Thursday where a Malaysia Airlines passenger jet reportedly was shot down along the Ukraine/Russia border. The post is one of many nominations tied up on the Senate floor, with Republicans protesting a Democratic change to filibuster rules.

[Update: The nominee is now slated for a vote Monday, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., announced on the floor late Thursday, via CQ Roll Call’s Sarah Chacko.]

The Malaysian Airlines incident is being compared to the 1983 shoot-down of a Korean Air Lines flight by the Soviet Union. ICAO investigated that disaster. Already, the Ukrainian foreign minister has called for their involvement in this incident.

Last fall, the Obama administration nominated Michael A. Lawson for the U.S. ambassador to ICAO, and was the subject of a Senate Foreign Relations hearing in February followed by committee action in May. Lawson is one of many Obama ambassador picks to face scrutiny in the media over his campaign donation bundling for Obama.

One quarter of the world has no U.S. ambassador, mostly stemming from partisan dispute over floor rules for nominees. Critics of the ambassadorial vacancies contend they leave the United States weaker in advancing its positions in those countries and United Nations bodies.

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