Roll Call: Latest News on Capitol Hill, Congress, Politics and Elections
October 7, 2015

Senate Set to Confirm Ambassador to Possible Malaysia Airlines MH17 Crash Investigator (Video) (Updated)

Updated 6:59 p.m. | The Senate is set to confirm a new U.S. ambassador to an international body that’s been responsible for investigating airplane crashes such as Malaysia Airlines MH17.

Roll Call reported on the vacancy earlier Thursday, and now the Senate has reached an agreement for a Monday evening vote on confirmation.

That’s as the crash of the Malaysia Airlines flight in Eastern Ukraine reported to have had Americans on board may require an independent investigation. As reported by Roll Call’s Five by Five, U.N. International Civil Aviation Organization, which investigated the 1983 shoot-down of a Korean Air Lines flight, has a nominee awaiting Senate confirmation.

Michael A. Lawson has been pending on the Senate’s executive calendar since May 20, following Foreign Relations Committee action. Five by Five reported that Lawson has faced scrutiny over his campaign donations to President Barack Obama.

Majority Leader Harry Reid has begun regular complaints about delays in confirming the backlog of State Department nominations. Absent consent agreements, the Nevada Democrat could spend days and hours working through the nominations, but each position would take significant post-cloture debate time.

“Right now, there are gaping holes in our nation’s front lines. American embassies all over the world are without their leaders. A quarter of all American embassies are without an ambassador. Senate Republicans, who have been so quick to accuse this administration of poor leadership on world issues, are obstructing the confirmation of ambassadors who are desperately needed at embassies around the world,” Reid said Thursday. “Republicans are abdicating the Senate’s constitutional role to confirm ambassadors.”

Last week, Secretary of State John Kerry said in a statement issued while in Kabul, Afghanistan, that he had spoken with Reid about the vacant diplomatic posts.

“Good diplomacy doesn’t tie one hand behind our back. I revere the Senate. Every member of the Senate wants America to succeed in the world. We have a Minority Leader who was my classmate in 1984 who I’ve seen firsthand work on and care about foreign policy very personally from South Africa in the 1980’s to Burma today,” Kerry said on July 10. “I know he wants America to be strong in the world. I think all of us agree that the United States should see its foreign policy professionals confirmed so that America is well represented.”

Kerry served in the Senate for 28 years, with Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., the entire time.

Kerry said he suggested treating a number of the diplomatic posts as bundles, “just the way we handle promotions of our military officers.” Those nominations are generally confirmed in batches that clear shortly before the Senate adjourns.

Tim Starks contributed to this report.

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    Screenshots floating around the Russian-language internet (now deleted) from the Facebook page of Igor Strelkov, a rebel leader in eastern Ukraine, depict posts of plumes of smoke and bragging about shooting down a Ukrainian military Antonov plane shortly before MH17 fell.

    ‘Don’t fly in our skies,’ he wrote. If true, it would seem rebels downed the jetliner, having mistaken it for a Ukrainian military jet.

    Now the question is what can Russia’s President Vladimir Putin do to rein in pro Russian militants inside Kiev as he continues to lose his rein on them and what is the US prepared to do to rein in Putin…?


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