President Joe Biden plans to renew the nomination of former Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti to be ambassador to India and try to fill other key vacancies, according to two administration officials, one of the first moves by the White House to try to capitalize on the expanded majority of Democrats in the Senate.
Garcetti’s nomination has been stalled for months amid a cold reception from several senators, including some Democrats, following allegations that while serving as mayor, he ignored allegations of sexual harassment against one of his aides. Those complaints were included in a investigation report posted by Senator Charles Grassley, R-Iowa, who was among the members who opposed the nomination. Garcetti has denied any wrongdoing.
His nomination and several others expired at the end of the previous Congress, leaving the White House to choose whether to present them again in the new Congress to restart the process.
Biden also plans to rename his picks for Federal Aviation Administration Phil Washington and Internal Revenue Service Danny Werfel, an administration official said.
The Wall Street Journal first reported the president’s plans.
When asked last month about Garcetti’s nomination, Sen. Bob Menendez, DN.J., chairman of the Foreign Relations Committee, would not say whether he wanted the former mayor reelected.
“That’s up to the White House,” he told NBC News. “They have to make that decision.”
Menendez also said he didn’t know if Garcetti had the votes to be confirmed.
Sen. Todd Young, R-Ind., said around the same time that “it may be” time to pick a different candidate given the difficulties Garcetti faces.
“He has a very impressive portfolio when it comes to India,” Young told NBC. “He has extensive knowledge of the country and would be well-equipped in many ways to represent the administration there. But more important than anything else is getting the president to trust someone for that job. It’s been too long.
India is a key ally for the US which has been without a US ambassador since Biden took office. Both countries are part of the Quadrilateral Security Dialogue, known as Quad, which also includes Australia and Japan. India is also scheduled to host this year’s summit of the Group of 20 top rich and developing nations.
Andrea Mitchell Y sahil kapur contributed.