Senate confirms Garcetti as ambassador to India, ending two-year tussle

WASHINGTON – The Senate on Wednesday confirmed former Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti as US ambassador to India, ending a two-year run that left a top diplomatic post vacant amid allegations of workplace misconduct and sexual harassment.

Mr. Garcetti was confirmed by a vote of 52 to 42, with some Democratic senators who expressed deep reservations voting “no” but many more Republicans voting in favor of moving forward, Mr. Garcetti’s attempt was saved from collapse.

It was a victory for President Biden, who has stuck by his political ally in the face of allegations and a lengthy process that has left the United States without a permanent ambassador to one of the world’s most populous and geopolitically important democracies.

“The US-India relationship is very important,” Senator Chuck Schumer, Democrat of New York and the majority leader, said after a test vote earlier Wednesday. “It’s a good thing we have an ambassador now.” He is Mr. Garcetti was given no particular credit.

Mr. Mr. Trump, who dropped the presidential vetting effort in 2019 as an early supporter of Biden’s campaign. Garcetti was shortlisted for several cabinet posts before the president appointed him ambassador to India.

But Mr. His nomination languished amid a Republican blockade of Biden’s Senate-confirmed nominees. It fell further after Senate Republicans prepared it Investigation report Last year Mr. It found “multiple credible allegations from multiple whistle-blowers” of misconduct by Garcetti’s top aide, and asserted that “Mayor Garcetti had personal knowledge of sexual harassment more than he should have or should have.” I know that.”

Mr. Garcetti has continued to deny the allegations, and the White House has dismissed them as partisan attacks, but they have effectively stalled action in the Senate, Mr. Garcetti’s fate was up in the air. The nomination died at the end of the last Congress, and in January, Mr. Mr. Biden Renamed Garcetti.

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In an interview on Wednesday, Mr. Garcetti said he never intended to remove his name from the controversy, and despite the delays, Mr.

“I checked in with the president and he was behind me 100 percent,” Mr. Garcetti said. “They said, ‘We trust you, we want you here.’ And they said, ‘It’s going to take some hard work, but we think you should serve.’

In recent days, Mr. Garcetti’s appointment seemed to pick up momentum. The Senate Foreign Relations Committee approved it last week with the support of two Republicans, Senators Todd Young of Indiana and Bill Hagerty of Tennessee. Mr. Garcetti and his allies were confident that the definitive nomination was moving in the right direction.

But there was resistance among most Republicans, and as a full Senate vote neared, some Democrats expressed concern.

Speaking at a fundraiser in Nevada on Tuesday night, Mr. Biden called it an “important vote.” White House officials reached out to senators and asked Mr. Pressing Garcetti’s case, they are trying to top him in a close poll. In those calls, Mr. Biden’s team underscored his qualifications and he was twice approved in committee votes on a bipartisan basis. On Capitol Hill, Senator Cory Booker, Democrat of New Jersey, Mr. Served as one of Garcetti’s key allies and secured votes on his behalf.

On Wednesday, seven Republicans joined most Democrats in endorsing him, while three Democrats — Senators Mazie K. Hirono of Hawaii, Sherrod Brown of Ohio and Mark Kelly of Arizona — broke away from the party to oppose him. Republican endorsements — Lindsey Graham of South Carolina, Susan Collins of Maine, Steve Daines of Montana, Roger Marshall of Kansas, Bill Cassidy of Louisiana, Mr. Haggerty and Mr Young – was enough to advance the appointment.

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Mr. Garcetti’s allies said they were happy to end the divisive fight over his appointment.

“This entire delay has hurt our ability to deepen our strategic partnership with India,” said Rep. Ro Khanna, Democrat of California, co-chair of the Congressional India Caucus. “I look forward to working with Eric to strengthen our ties with India as we face Putin’s war and heightened tensions with Xi Jinping.”

Mr. Garcetti himself has never been accused of misconduct. But a former member has his security detail, who does sued the city, his former vice president was sexually harassed. The officer and a second former city employee who served as communications director, Rick Jacobs, a key Democratic fundraiser and mayoral adviser in the Los Angeles gay community, said he made sexual comments and gestures and behaved inappropriately toward deputies. Mr. They said Garcetti knew about it and failed to act on complaints about it.

In the days leading up to the polls, Mr. Another person who claims to have been harassed and assaulted by Jacobs shared personal stories with the chiefs of staff of both Democratic and Republican senators. The man insisted on anonymity for fear of retaliation.

Those conversations seemed to sway some senators. Mr. Ms Hirono had previously indicated she planned to support Garcetti. But in a statement Wednesday, he said, “I received additional information earlier this week that, taken together with the information already available, leads me to say ‘NO’ to Mr. Garcetti’s nomination.”

Mr. Garcetti has said he “never witnessed” the alleged harassment and that none of the incidents were brought to his attention. He added that workplace abuse was a “major issue” for him and that he would have taken steps to stop it if he had known.

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But when his former communications director, Naomi Seligman, publicly pressured him to take responsibility for alleged abuses in his office, Republican Senator Charles E. Grassley released a 23-page report detailing the sexual harassment allegations. Mr. Garcetti’s former assistant and Mr. Chances are Garcetti knew or should have known.

“Senators on both sides of the aisle have seen extensive credible evidence that Mr. Garcetti operated a sex predator at City Hall for years and lied about it at his confirmation hearing,” Ms. Seligman said in a statement. “Without political pressure from the White House, this nomination would not have reached the Senate floor.”

The White House called the report “partisan” and “a work in progress from the start,” adding that “many of the claims have already been categorically debunked by more serious independent reports.” Mr. Garcetti’s parents — his father is a former Los Angeles district attorney — spent at least $90,000 on a lobbyist to defend him.

Mr. Garcetti said Wednesday the process has been “a long road, but a big goal,” noting that he studied Hindi in college and that as mayor he worked with his Indian counterparts on “everything from energy to ports to culture and urbanization.”

He added: “I think I was in tears at the end. There were times when it was trying, but I always understood that the political process takes time.

“Repetition of the truth does not make it true,” he said of claims of mishandling of harassment and abuse in his office.

Jolan Kanno-Youngs Contributed report.

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