No NTSB chair for Ukraine crash probe

The Senate late Monday confirmed Los Angeles lawyer Michael A. Lawson, a major Democratic contributor and Obama mega-bundler, to be the U.S. representative to the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO), headquartered in Montreal.  ICAO is a U.N. organization that deals with air safety and security issues, something much in the news of late.

Lawson, in addition to raising up to $500,000 in both 2008 and 2012, according to the Center for Responsive Politics, also has served on the Los Angeles World Airports’ Board of Airport Commissioners and is its immediate past president.

Lawson was just recently nominated for the job. (Okay, it was last September, but for the Senate these days, that means recent.) And the Senate Foreign Relations Committee approved the nomination — without opposition — on May 20. Lawson was confirmed Monday by a voice vote.

Still pending, however, is the nomination of Chris Hart to be chairman of the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) which could really be in the thick of things in Ukraine following the Russian downing of  the Malaysian passenger plane.

Hart has been a member of the NTSB since 2009 and has been its acting chief since April 25, when Deborah Hersman left. He was also on the board from 1990-93. 

Granted, President Obama didn’t nominated him to replace her until June 26, but we’re thinking it’s important for the Senate to move on the formal promotion quickly. The head of the NTSB, like the chair of many other federal alphabet agencies, is like the lion tamer in the circus ring. If he doesn’t have the whip, they’re not going to perform very well.

Al Kamen, an award-winning columnist on the national staff of The Washington Post, created the “In the Loop” column in 1993.
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