WASHINGTON – The Senate on Wednesday confirmed former Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti to serve as US ambassador to India, helping Republican senators reward President Biden with a political ally and early campaign supporter after a bruising confirmation battle.
The Senate voted 52 to 42 to approve Garcetti’s ambassadorial nomination, with seven Republicans voting for the nomination and three Democrats voting against it.
Garcetti’s bid for the New Delhi post was mired in controversyHe was likely aware of sexual harassment and racist comments from a former top aide when he was mayor of the nation’s second-largest city, a post he held from 2013 to 2022.
According to a May 2022 report commissioned by GOP Sen. Chuck Grassley, aide Rick Jacobs may have “sexually harassed multiple individuals and made racist comments to others.” Because Garcetti was “very involved in the day-to-day operations of his office,” the report determined that the mayor was unaware of the behavior “highly unlikely.” Senate investigators noted that a report commissioned by the city of Los Angeles cleared both men of wrongdoing, but determined that the findings suffered from “major deficiencies” that called its conclusions into question.
The White House condemned the Senate report as a partisan attack, and Garcetti said he “strongly disagree(d)” with its conclusions, calling the investigation “one-sided” and “biased.” At his confirmation hearing before the Senate Foreign Relations Committee in December 2021, Garcettithat he “never witnessed, nor brought to my notice, the conduct alleged.”
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The confirmation marked a victory for Garcetti, who previously enjoyed a run for the 2020 Democratic presidential nomination. The vote was also a victory for the White House, which refused to withdraw the nomination even as Garcetti’s support appeared to be on shaky ground.
President Biden originally nominated Garcetti as ambassador, about two years ago. The president renominated Garcetti this year with the opening of a new Congress.
Garcetti endorsed Mr. Biden for president in early January 2020, a crucial time for Mr. Biden as he tries to fend off other Democrats in the primaries.
“Joe Biden is a close personal friend who has been an incredible partner in delivering progress for L.A.,” Garcetti said at the time. “He came to L.A. and stood shoulder-to-shoulder with me to make us the first major city to implement a $15 minimum wage, and he brought leaders from around the world to our city to forge the most comprehensive climate agreement before the Paris Agreement.”
Jack Turman contributed reporting.