Elisha Pulivarti/Washington DC
At long last, the Joe Biden administration has finalized US ambassador to India – after the Senate voted Eric Garcetti, former mayor of Mayor of Loss Angles. The Senate voted 52-42 on Wednesday to confirm former Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti to be the next U.S. ambassador to India. 52 year old Garcetti will play a role in the upcoming visit of President Biden to India in September this year, for G-20 summit.
The long-delayed Garcetti nomination grew unusually contentious and sparked some last-minute drama. Several Democrats voted against advancing his nomination, but enough Republicans backed Garcetti to give the U.S. its first permanent ambassador to India under President Joe Biden, more than two years into his term. Till now absence of a full time ambassador of US in Delhi left some vaccum.
Garcetti was first nominated by President Biden for the post in July 2021. However, his appointment was not Okayed by the senate due to a controversy over his sexual misconduct against a former aide when he was the mayor. However, Garcetti denied any wrongdoing on his part. The delay in sending a permanent ambassador to India vexed many lawmakers from both Democrats and Republicans.
“India, key ally of US”
Democratic Senator Tim Kaine from Virginia said on the foreign relations committee that “India is the largest democracy in the world, a key ally of the US”. If you don’t confirm an ambassador to (India), the nation kind of receives the message – I guess this must not the be that important. And, we don’t want to send that message to any nation, but especially to India”. Kaine summed up the mood of the Senate.
The senator also reminded the committee, which confirmed Garcetti’s appointment, that India is a key member of Quad, along with the US, Japan and Australia. Still, some Republicans questioned the qualifications of Garcetti who was a a national co-chair to Biden’s 2020 presidential campaign. At the end of the debate, some Democratic senators opposed Garcetti’s nomination, while some Republicans voted for him.
In spite of ideological divide and cross-voting, what emerged as consensus is one thing – that the appointment to a key ally and a major country like India cannot be put on hold for long. As Biden is keen on sending Garcetti to India, the Senate felt that there is no point in delaying the appointment. Garcetti is expected to take up his job in New Delhi by the month end or first week of April.