Eric Garcetti’s Ambassador Dream Job Still Stuck in Limbo

Several Democratic senators have been expressing hesitation regarding the mayor’s nomination to become the U.S. ambassador to India

Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti’s nomination to serve as U.S. ambassador to India remains in limbo in the Senate, with several Democratic lawmakers expressing uncertainty over the nomination, the Los Angeles Times reports.

On May 6, Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) issued an informal “temperature check” to Democratic senators to see which way lawmakers were leaning in regards to the nomination coming to the floor for a vote. Democratic aides tell the Times that many of legislators conveyed concerns.

Garcetti’s nomination was confirmed in January by the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, but has since been stalled due to criticism that the mayor must have or should have known about the alleged inappropriate behavior of his senior aide, Rick Jacobs, who was accused of sexually harassing and making racist remarks to colleagues.

Garcetti told the committee in December that he wasn’t aware of Jacobs’ alleged actions and that, if he had been, he would have stepped in. However, last week, a 23-page report released by Sen. Charles E. Grassley (R-Iowa) concluded that it was “extremely unlikely” that Garcetti was unaware of the aide’s alleged inappropriate behavior. The report did not reveal any substantive new information, according to the Times.

In brief interviews with the newspaper last week, several key Democratic lawmakers said they had not heard from Garcetti and that they are still struggling with how to handle the nomination. The mayor needs a majority of senators to approve his nomination to become the ambassador to India.

Sen. Mark Kelly of Arizona told the Times he’s “still doing the due diligence on it” and Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand of New York indicated she would review Garcetti’s information “if his name comes up for a vote” on the Senate floor.

Sen. Mazie Hirono of Hawaii told the Times she has not decided whether she would vote in favor of Garcetti and put the burden back on top Senate Democrats.

“Maybe you should ask the leadership what they intend to do with this nomination,” she said.

When asked whether he would bring Garcetti up for a vote, Schumer—who initially called for the “temperature check” on the nomination earlier this month—did not provide a timeline.

On the other hand, at least one senator who previously conveyed doubts about Garcetti’s nomination has had a change of heart 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,” Sen. Richard Blumenthal (D-Conn.) told the Times. “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.) has been trying to set up similar meetings with lawmakers and Garcetti in an attempt to change their minds as well. “But it’s been difficult the last few weeks to get some of those meetings and calls scheduled,” he told the paper.

Murphy, as well as Sen. Chris Coons of Delaware, have also started lobbying their colleagues on the nomination, indicating that it’s essential for the U.S. to send 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.

Murphy acknowledged that there’s still work that needs to be done, but expressed optimism, saying, “I still expect that we can get it done.”

Meanwhile, the White House hasn’t faltered in its support of Garcetti. “The president has confidence in Mayor Garcetti and believes he’ll be an excellent representative in India,” White House spokesperson Chris Meagher, told the Times.

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