The Senate advanced former Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti’s nomination to become U.S. ambassador to India, paving the way for his final confirmation later Wednesday.
Garcetti’s confirmation moved ahead on a 52-42 vote, with seven GOP senators supporting him and three Democrats voting no.
That unusual bipartisan tally reflected the controversy that nearly unraveled Garcetti’s nomination, stemming from allegations that he was aware of — and did not act on — sexual assault and harassment accusations against his former top aide, Rick Jacobs. Garcetti has denied that he knew of the accusations against Jacobs before they became public.
Wednesday’s vote came nearly two years after Biden tapped Garcetti to become U.S. ambassador to India. Even hours before the first Senate roll-call, the outcome was uncertain, a rarity these days on the floor. Garcetti’s Senate backers remained confident this week that he would be confirmed, despite some Democrats privately predicting a tight vote.
“I don’t think either, on the Dems’ or our side, we know exactly where every vote is,” Minority Whip John Thune (R-S.D.) said ahead of the vote.
The Foreign Relations Committee approved Garcetti’s nomination for a second time last week, with support from two Senate Republicans: Todd Young of Indiana and Bill Hagerty of Tennessee. Garcetti lost a handful of Democratic votes, however, leaving his fate in the hands of the Senate GOP — an unusual position for a Biden nominee.
Sens. Mark Kelly (D-Ariz.), Sherrod Brown (D-Ohio) and Mazie Hirono (D-Hawaii) all voted against advancing Garcetti.
Biden first nominated Garcetti in July 2021, and the Foreign Relations Committee held a confirmation hearing in December 2021. But Garcetti’s nomination later ground to a halt amid the Jacobs allegations. Biden re-nominated him in January. Garcetti and the White House pushed hard for final confirmation, with his parents even hiring a lobbyist to help him get over the finish line.
“There was finally a decision, when the president renominated him, that he was entitled to a vote,” observed Senate Majority Whip Dick Durbin (D-Ill.).
Last year, Sen. Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa) published a report on the allegations that said “it is more likely than not that Mayor Garcetti either had personal knowledge of the sexual harassment or should have been aware of it.” The White House, however, has consistently stood by Garcetti, who was one of Biden’s early backers in the 2020 presidential race.
“This is an opportunity for those that say that they’re going to believe that people that are assaulted to cast their vote accordingly, and if they don’t, then it’s kind of a hypocritical situation,” Grassley said.
Sen. Cory Booker (D-N.J.), a staunch Garcetti ally, defended him Tuesday, describing him as “a really qualified candidate that had dispersions made against him that were disproved by the facts.”
Jordain Carney and Anthony Adragna contributed to this report.
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