The Senate is due to vote Wednesday on the nomination of former Los Angeles mayor Eric Garcetti to be ambassador to India. But after almost two years of delays, the outcome is still uncertain.
An unusually high number of no-shows among senators and lingering questions about how much Garcetti knew about the alleged sexual harassment by a former top aide have added a rare level of uncertainty to the vote.
The Senate is due to vote Wednesday morning on a procedural motion related to the nomination. If successful, a vote on confirmation will take place on Wednesday afternoon.
Sen. Richard J. Durbin of Illinois, who is responsible for counting Democratic votes, declined to predict Tuesday whether the vote would be successful. Democrats have not “lashed” the vote, nor have they asked each Democratic senator how he intends to vote, “so I don’t assume any results until” we vote, he said.
It is unusual for a high-profile nomination to go to the full Senate and lose. But the White House and Garcetti have pushed hard for a vote to take place, regardless of the outcome.
That has cast doubt on some Democrats who have publicly expressed concern about whether Garcetti knew about the sexual harassment allegedly committed by his former aide, Rick Jacobs.
While at least two Republicans have already endorsed Garcetti in the caucus, it’s unclear whether other Republicans would cross the aisle to save a Biden nominee, particularly if Democrats balk.
Additionally, several senators are absent from Washington this week, including Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.), who was recently diagnosed with shingles in San Francisco.
If the vote fails, Senate Majority Leader Charles E. Schumer (DN.Y.) has the option to review the nomination at a later date.
President Biden nominated Garcetti in July 2021. But the nomination withered amid concerns over sexual harassment. Garcetti told lawmakers that if he had known about the harassment, he would have done something about it.
With Republicans vowing to delay the nomination, Senate Democrats last year were unwilling to waste the assembly’s valuable time promoting her, wanting instead to focus on legislation the Democratic-controlled House could pass.
When Republicans took control of the House this year, Senate Democrats relegated most legislation to the back burner and prioritized moving deadlocked candidates.
The US Embassy in India has been without an ambassador since January 2021, the longest period in the history of US-India relations that the post has been vacant.