Garcetti’s nomination remains stalled in Senate
Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti’s nomination to be ambassador to India is dangling by a thread in the Senate, with several Democrats continuing to express hesitation over the nomination.
Senate Majority Leader Charles E. Schumer’s (D-N.Y.) office issued an informal “temperature check” to Democratic senators on May 6 to see where lawmakers stood on the nomination coming to the floor for a vote. Several of them indicated concerns, according to Democratic aides.
Garcetti’s nomination cleared the Senate Foreign Relations Committee in January but has since stalled.
While he is one of dozens of Biden administration nominees trying to get through the backlogged Senate, he has also faced criticism that he must have or should have known a senior aide, Rick Jacobs, was sexually harassing colleagues and making racist comments.
Garcetti told the committee in December that he never witnessed any inappropriate behavior by Jacobs and that if he had, he would have acted on it.
In brief interviews last week, several key Democratic senators indicated they have not heard from Garcetti and that they continue to have troubles over the nomination.
Full coverage on Eric Garcetti about aide’s alleged misconduct
Sen. Mark Kelly of Arizona said he’s “still doing the due diligence on it.”
Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand of New York said she would review Garcetti’s information “if his name comes up for a vote” on the Senate floor.
Sen. Mazie Hirono of Hawaii said she has not made up her mind on whether she would support Garcetti and threw responsibility for dealing with the issue back on Senate Democratic leaders.
“Maybe you should ask the leadership what they intend to do with this nomination,” she added.
Schumer, when asked in a brief interview last week about whether he would bring Garcetti up for a vote, gave no indication of a timeline.
L.A. Mayor Eric Garcetti was ‘likely’ aware of alleged sexual misconduct by aide Rick Jacobs, according to an investigation by Sen. Charles E. Grassley (R-Iowa).
In a hopeful sign for Garcetti, at least one senator who previously expressed doubts about the nomination has reversed course. Sen. Richard Blumenthal (D-Conn.) changed his mind after meeting with the mayor.
“I asked him some pretty tough questions, and he gave some convincing answers. I also reviewed the entire file, all the evidence,” Blumenthal said. “I think the evidence is insufficient to bar him from this very important post that he is qualified to do.”
Sen. Chris Murphy (D-Conn.), who is supportive of Garcetti’s nomination, is trying to arrange more meetings with lawmakers. “But it’s been difficult the last few weeks to get some of those meetings and calls scheduled,” he said.
A few Democrats on the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, including Murphy and Sen. Chris Coons of Delaware, have begun lobbying their colleagues on the nomination.
Murphy acknowledged “we still have some work to do in the caucus,” but he expressed optimism. “I still expect that we can get it done.”
Both Murphy and Coons have stressed to their colleagues that the U.S. needs to have an ambassador to the country.
“On Russia’s unprovoked, unjustified invasion of Ukraine, the pandemic and climate change, India plays a critical role in how all three of these issues proceed, and to not have a confirmed ambassador is an unforced error,” Coons said.
Their effort comes after Sen. Charles E. Grassley (R-Iowa) released a report looking into the allegations. The 23-page report concluded it was “extremely unlikely” that Garcetti was unaware of the aide’s alleged inappropriate behavior. However, the report did not reveal any substantive new information.
Democrats accused Grassley of pursuing the report to hold up the nomination for partisan reasons.
The White House continues to support Garcetti’s nomination. “The president has confidence in Mayor Garcetti and believes he’ll be an excellent representative in India,” said White House spokesperson Chris Meagher.
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