Senate confirms Eric Garcetti as next Ambassador to India
The Senate, on March 15, 2023, confirmed former Mayor of Los Angeles Eric Garcetti in a 52 (D) – 42 (R) vote, as the next US Ambassador to India. The confirmation comes more than a year into the Biden administration, leaving a key ally without the top official needed to steer diplomatic relations.
“I’m thrilled with today’s outcome, which was a decisive & bipartisan decision to fill a critical post that was been vacant for long. I’m grateful to President Biden & White House. I’m ready & eager to begin my service representing our critical interests in India: Eric Garcetti,” a tweet on ANI quoted the new Ambassador to India saying.
Commenting on the confirmation, White House National Security Council Coordinator for Strategic Communications, Rear Admiral John Kirby, told News India Times at the White House, on March 15, “We’re absolutely delighted that the Senate confirmed Mr. Garcetti to be our next Ambassador to India. I know he’s very excited about this opportunity and advancing our foreign policy interests throughout South Asia, certainly in India. We’re eager to get them on the ground.”
White House Deputy Press Secretary Olivia Dalton in a statement said, “President Biden believes that we have a crucial and consequential partnership with India and that Mayor Garcetti will make a strong and effective Ambassador. The President thanks Chairman Menendez and Senators on both sides of the aisle for their thorough consideration and for today’s bipartisan vote to confirm Mayor Garcetti.”
Following the Senate vote, President & CEO of US-India Strategic Partnership Forum, Mukesh Aghi, told News India Times on March 15, “Eric will be a good asset as an ambassador for both countries. With his experience of being mayor of LA and his previous experience in India, he brings both emotional and intellectual capacity to this relationship. His direct contact with President Biden brings a lot of decision-making to a quicker process than it would take.” Applauding the Senate’s decision for having confirmed Garcetti, and that he looks forward to the collaboration, Aghi added, “Eric is a big thinker, and he strongly believes that the relationship between India and the US is the most consequential for this century.”
Last week, the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, voted 13-8 to advance Garcetti’s nomination sending it to the full Senate for the confirmation. After Garcetti received votes from two Republican Senators Todd Young and Bill Hagerty in favor of his confirmation Senator Robert Menendez, Chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, said “He got two Republican votes today. I would think that he would find a pathway forward on the floor to be supported” adding “Assume that it’s just a question of getting him time on the floor. Nominations take up time when they have to be voted out through the whole process.”
President Joe Biden re-nominated Garcetti, on January 3, 2023, for the post with the expectation that the 51-49 Democratic majority in the new Senate will confirm him. “As Secretary Blinken said very recently, our relationship with India is crucial… so we see this as a very important nomination,” said White House Press Secretary Karine Jean-Pierre on Garcetti’s renomination with the hope that the full Senate will confirm quickly.
Garcetti was initially nominated by President Biden in July 2021, a few months after he took office in January. Since then Garcetti’s nomination has stalled in the Senate. Many Senators in the Democratic Party had privately expressed concerns over Garcetti lack of awareness of the sexual assault allegations against his top adviser, Rick Jacobs. Concerns from the Republican party initiated by Sen. Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa), led the Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Kentucky) to stall the process. Shortly after, Sen. Joni Ernst (R-Iowa) also supported Grassley, whose office went further to initiate an investigation into the allegations.
“Several individuals told investigators that Mayor Garcetti was aware of this behavior, and based on the reported frequency and conspicuous nature of the conduct, it is more likely than not that Mayor Garcetti either had personal knowledge of the sexual harassment or should have been aware of it,” noted a May 10th staff review from Grassley’s office.
On December 13th, Grassley, in a Senate Floor Statement said, “I’d like to express my strong opposition to the nomination of Eric Garcetti to be Ambassador to the Republic of India. I’m compelled to vote against Mayor Garcetti due to the serious allegations that he enabled sexual harassment and racism to run rampant in the Los Angeles Mayor’s office.”
Raised in San Fernando Valley, Garcetti got his Bachelors and Masters degrees from Columbia University, and taught at Occidental College and the University of Southern California. He was a Rhodes Scholar at Oxford, and at the London School of Economics. He has a young daughter, Maya Juanita with his wife Amy Wakeland.