Eric Garcetti’s nomination as ambassador to India made incremental progress this week as the former mayor of Los Angeles impressed a Republican senator after a private meeting and won over an undecided Democrat.
Garcetti, whose nomination has languished for about a year and a half, drew praise from a major swing vote on Tuesday, reviving a nomination that seemed all but dead.
“I had an excellent meeting with Mayor Garcetti yesterday and I was impressed by his knowledge of India,” Maine Senator Susan Collins, a moderate Republican, told The Times in an interview.
A person familiar with Garcetti’s schedule confirmed he was in Washington this week, but gave no further details.
President Biden first nominated Garcetti for the position in July 2021, but the ex-mayor was criticized for knowing — or should have known — that Rick Jacobs, a senior aide, allegedly sexually harassed colleagues and made racial slurs.
Jacobs has denied the allegations, and Garcetti testified at his confirmation hearing in December 2021 that he had “never witnessed nor been brought to my attention the alleged conduct”.
Iowa Republican Senator Charles E. Grassley released a 23-page report last year that found it “extremely unlikely” that Garcetti knew nothing about his aide’s alleged behavior.
“We discussed the allegations against his assistant and his response to those allegations,” Collins said. “I still want to look at Senator Grassley’s report, but I don’t think ‘should have known’ is a reasonable yardstick. So I haven’t made a final decision yet, but I was impressed.”
Collins’ positive comments come next This is reported by Punchbowl News that Democratic Senator Mazie Hirono of Hawaii said she would vote for Garcetti on the floor. Hirono had previously told The Times that she was “still thinking” about how she would vote.
“In this case, it’s not him who did it,” Hirono said of Garcetti and Jacobs’ alleged behavior. “He also testified that he knew nothing. So at this point, I’m willing to vote for the man.
However, the signs of progress have been met with a few setbacks.
Asked about Garcetti’s nomination at a news conference Tuesday afternoon, Senate Majority Leader Charles E. Schumer (DN.Y.) said only, “We’ll have to wait and see what happens in committee.”
Schumer’s statement came after the Senate Foreign Relations Committee postponed a meeting on Tuesday to discuss Garcetti’s nomination and other Biden picks that have not been confirmed.
Florida Republican Senator Marco Rubio, who sits on the committee, garnered Garcetti and half a dozen other nominations.
“One of these nominees ignored credible allegations of sexual assault in his previous office,” Rubio said in a statement late last week, referring to allegations against Garcetti. “I will not close my eyes to these absurd nominations, which will accelerate America’s decline.”
When the panel last took on Garcetti’s nomination in January 2022, it was reported positively to the full senate via a vote without objection. But it never got to the floor for a vote, partly because of concerns it lacked Democratic support.
Since Garcetti’s original nomination, he was completing his last term as mayor.
The composition of the Senate has also changed, with Senate Democrats extending their 50-50 majority in the last Congress to a 51-seat majority.
But it remains unclear whether Garcetti has the support of all Democrats.
The Democrats currently rule by a 50 to 49 majority as Senator John Fetterman of Pennsylvania continues to be treated at Walter Reed Medical Center for depression. It is unclear when he will return.