President Joe Biden once again nominated former Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti as U.S. ambassador to India on January 3. Biden had first selected Garcetti for the diplomatic post on July 9, 2021. Garcetti’s nomination was approved by the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, but the full Senate never held a vote on the matter during the last Congress.
At the time of his first nomination, Garcetti was serving his second term as mayor of Los Angeles. That term ended in December 2022.
At a January 3 briefing, White House Press Secretary Karine Jean-Pierre stressed that the Senate Foreign Relations Committee had approved Garcetti’s nomination "unanimously and with strong bipartisan support." She added, "We’re hopeful that the full Senate will confirm him promptly."
Senate confirmation of Garcetti’s nomination had been stalled due to efforts by Senator Chuck Grassley, an Iowa Republican. Grassley’s office produced a 23-page report that said the mayor had probably been aware of his Deputy Chief of Staff Rick Jacobs' "pervasive, widespread and notorious" sexual harassment of others.
The Senate’s inaction on the nomination had left Garcetti in "limbo," noted Jill Cowan of The New York Times. She pointed out that there was currently no U.S. ambassador in India at a time when that country was maintaining strict neutrality on the war in Ukraine and importing Russian oil.
Richard Rossow, of the Center for Strategic & International Studies, tweeted that the U.S. had not had an ambassador in India for almost two years.
When announcing Biden’s desire to see Garcetti as ambassador in 2021, the White House recalled that the mayor had been a Rhodes Scholar who had taught at the University of Southern California and Occidental College.
"During 12 years as an Intelligence Officer in the U.S. Navy Reserve Component, Garcetti served under the Commander, U.S. Pacific Fleet and the Defense Intelligence Agency, retiring in 2017 as a Lieutenant," the White House said.
In written testimony before the Senate Foreign Relations Committee on December 14, 2021, Garcetti said, "In 1992, the year I graduated from college after studying Hindi and Indian cultural and religious history, U.S.-India ties languished in the shadow of Cold War era mistrust. Annual trade stood at a paltry $2 billion, defense trade was zero, and military interoperability was non-existent. The very idea of a U.S.-India strategic partnership would have been deemed laughable."
The importance of such a partnership was now "firmly ingrained in both Washington and New Delhi," Garcetti observed. He said he would push forward "an ambitious economic partnership with India." Such a partnership would increase employment in America, Garcetti said.
"If confirmed, I intend to double-down on our efforts to strengthen India’s capacity to secure its borders, defend its sovereignty, and deter aggression – through information sharing, counterterrorism coordination, joint freedom of navigation patrols and military exercises (which I have participated in as a naval officer alongside my Indian counterparts), and sales of our best defense technologies in order to realize the full potential of our Major Defense Partnership," he said.
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