Ex-LA Mayor Garcetti’s Nomination as India Ambassador Advances

Senate Foreign Relations Committee votes to approve Biden pick. Committee vote comes after he failed to win nomination in 2022.

Eric Garcetti
Eric Garcetti

A Senate committee voted in favor of former Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti’s nomination to be US ambassador to India, clearing the way for Senate action despite questions over his handling of a sexual harassment case. 

Garcetti’s nomination advanced from the Senate Foreign Relations Committee on a 13-8 vote, with Republicans Todd Young and Bill Hagerty joining Democrats in favor. Their support means he’s likely to get enough votes when the nomination goes before the full Senate.

Eric GarcettiPhotographer: Patrick T. Fallon/Bloomberg
Eric GarcettiPhotographer: Patrick T. Fallon/Bloomberg

President Joe Biden nominated Garcetti in July 2021, but his bid stalled as Republicans and some Democrats raised questions about his handling of a sexual harassment case from his time as mayor. A review led by Senator Chuck Grassley found that Garcetti “likely” knew or should have known that a former aide had committed sexual harassment and made racist comments. 

Garcetti rejected the accusations, and a White House spokesman previously called the GOP-led report a partisan “hit job.”

Biden resubmitted Garcetti’s nomination in January as the White House sought to finally fill a key ambassador job that had been empty since Kenneth Juster stepped down when former President Donald Trump left office in January 2021. 

The US-India relationship has grown stronger in recent years but remains delicate given Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s crackdown on human rights and his refusal to isolate Russia over its invasion of Ukraine. While India has had historically close diplomatic and defense ties to Russia, Indian officials have diversified arms purchases in recent years.

Asked about the Senate committee vote on Wednesday, State Department spokesman Ned Price said that “put simply, the United States needs a confirmed ambassador in India” given the country’s importance.

“There is no other country around the world that would put it itself in a position to have a vacancy open in a strategically important and valuable place like India for two-plus years now,” he continued. “We certainly hope the action that the Senate took today foretells additional action.”

Secretary of State Antony Blinken just returned from a visit to India, where he engaged with Indian officials and made a public appearance alongside foreign ministers from the strategic grouping known as the Quad, which also includes India, Australia and Japan.

(Updates with State Department comments in seventh paragraph)

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