Republicans Bail Out Biden Ambassador to India Nominee Eric Garcetti in Critical Confirmation Vote

Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti speaks during the opening of the Terminal 1 expansion at L
PATRICK T. FALLON/AFP via Getty Images

The Senate confirmed former Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti (D) as President Joe Biden’s U.S. ambassador to India after seven Republicans voted with most Democrats on Wednesday to pass the vote.

The final vote count was 52 to 42 with six absences.

Garcetti’s fate in the narrowly divided Senate had been uncertain heading into Wednesday as Sens. John Fetterman (D-PA), Diane Feinstein (D-CA), and Mitch McConnell (R-KY) were expected to miss the vote for health reasons and other swing voters from both parties had appeared to be on the fence.

Republicans who voted for Garcetti:

  • Sen. Bill Hagerty (TN)
  • Sen. Todd Young (IN)
  • Sen. Roger Marshall (KS)
  • Sen. Susan Collins (ME)
  • Sen. Steve Daines (MT)
  • Sen. Bill Cassidy (LA)
  • Sen. Lindsey Graham (SC)

Democrats who voted against him:

  • Sen. Mark Kelly (AZ)
  • Sen. Sherrod Brown (OH)
  • Sen. Mazie Hirono (HI)

Garcetti, who served as L.A. mayor for nine years until 2022, was first nominated by Biden to serve as ambassador to India in July 2021, but the vote was tabled amid sexual harassment claims made against top Garcetti aide Rick Jacobs, as detailed in the Los Angeles Times.

Sen. Chuck Grassley (R-IA) issued a report last year that found it was “more likely than not that Mayor Garcetti either had personal knowledge of the sexual harassment or should have been aware of it.”

Jacobs has denied any wrongdoing, Garcetti has denied any knowledge of any wrongdoing, and the White House has stood by the former mayor. Biden renominated Garcetti on January 3, the first day of the 118th Congress.

White House press secretary Karine Jean-Pierre said at the time that Garcetti was “well-qualified” for the “vital role” and that the White House was “hopeful that the Senate [would] confirm him promptly.”

Prior to Garcetti’s confirmation Wednesday, the role of U.S. ambassador to India had been open for more than two years, and Republicans voting in favor of Garcetti largely indicated they were willing to overlook his perceived downsides to fill a role critical to the United States’ response to threats from China.

Hagerty, who typically votes with Republicans but voted for Garcetti, previously served as U.S. ambassador to Japan, a country that has been an equally important partner as India to the U.S. — all three countries along with Australia are members of the “Quad” alliance — in terms of addressing competition from China.

“This is a national security imperative,” Young, another Republican who crossed the aisle to support Garcetti, told CNN. “We have to balance concerns people might have about the nominee against the real risk of waiting another year until we have an ambassador on the ground.

Garcetti became a major ally for Senate Democrats in 2018, raising more than $1 million at a single fundraising event with Hollywood figures in California to support Senate candidates in the election that year.

Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY) said in a noticeably brief statement after Garcetti’s confirmation, “The United States-India relationship is extremely important and it’s a very good thing we now have an Ambassador.”

Write to Ashley Oliver at Follow her on Twitter at @asholiver.


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