Former Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti (D) was sworn in as U.S. ambassador to India on Friday after seven Republicans sided with Democrats in a vote this month to push his confirmation through the Senate.
Vice President Kamala Harris led the swearing-in process as Garcetti recited the oath of office, a moment nearly two years in the making after his initial nomination was tabled in 2021 amid sexual harassment claims against a top Garcetti aide.
“Ambassador Garcetti is a committed public servant and will play a critical role in strengthening our partnership with the people of India,” Harris said in a statement after the event.
The ambassador position had been open for two years after Biden first nominated the then-mayor in July 2021.
The nomination initially never made it to the Senate floor, however, as Garcetti had been accused of having knowledge about his aide Rick Jacobs allegedly sexually harassing members of their office in L.A.
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, however, denied any wrongdoing, Garcetti has maintained that he had no knowledge of any wrongdoing, and the White House has stood by the former mayor, renominating him in January and praising him as “well-qualified” for the role.
The final vote count in the Senate, 52 to 42 with six absences, was unusual in that typically hardline Republicans like Sens. Bill Hagerty (R-TN) and Steve Daines (R-MT) defected to vote for the California Democrat, while far-left Sen. Mazie Hirono (D-HI) voted with Republicans.
The Senate Republicans who ended up voting for Garcetti largely conveyed that they were concerned with filling a role that is critical to the U.S. as it competes with China on the world stage and were therefore willing to overlook Garcetti’s perceived flaws, such as the claims against his aide and controversies like his handling of coronavirus or the rampant homelessness he oversaw in L.A.
Hirono appeared concerned with the harassment allegations, cryptically saying in a statement, per the New York Times, “I received additional information that, when taken in its totality with the information already available, has led me to be a ‘no’ on Mr. Garcetti’s nomination.”