The foreign relations committee of the US Senate today voted in favour of former Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti becoming the ambassador of India. Mr Garcetti, who is Joe Biden’s choice for the key envoy post, will now face a vote on the floor of the US Senate.
The panel approved the nomination by a vote of 13-8, with Republican Senators Todd Young and Bill Hagerty joining all of the committee’s Democrats in voting in favor of Eric Garcetti.
“We did see the action on the part of the Senate today. We heartily applaud that. The US needs a confirmed Ambassador in India. Our team on the ground, incl Charge d’ Affaires, who have served in the place of an ambassador, have done extraordinary work,” said US State Department Spokesperson Ned Price.
Clearing Eric Garcetti’s name, the committee said that having a full-time ambassador to India was a matter of national security.
Mr Garcetti’s name had been cleared by the committee last year too, but the appointment did not go through due to allegations of sexual misconduct against some staff members in his office.
Owing to the impasse, the US has not had an India Ambassador for two years now. With the key post vacant, the Biden administration last year appointed Elizabeth Jones as the Charge d’Affaires ad interim at its Embassy in Delhi.
Mr Garcetti, 52, was nominated by President Biden for the Ambassador to India post in July 2021. But his nomination was not brought to the Senate for a vote as the ruling Democrats did not have enough support to get him through. Republicans and some members of Mr Garcetti’s party were opposed to his nomination because of allegations of sexual misconduct against some staff members in the Los Angeles Mayor’s office during his term.
Senator Chuck Grassley released a report on the situation in May, concluding that Mr Garcetti was likely aware of the allegations that his former chief of staff, Rick Jacobs, sexually harassed a Los Angeles police officer.
The Sentor’s office said in a release that the investigation’s findings contradict what Eric Garcetti testified at a nomination hearing before the committee.
Mr Garcetti said at the time in response to the report that he “strongly” disagreed with its findings and expressed optimism about being confirmed by the full Senate.
A report that the city of Los Angeles commissioned had previously found that Mr Garcetti had not engaged in any improper conduct in relation to the allegations against Jacobs.
Eric Garcetti never received a full vote of the Senate before the end of the congressional session in January, and Joe Biden renominated him immediately at the start of the current session.
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