The Senate is due to vote Wednesday on former Los Angles Mayor Eric Garcetti’s nomination to be ambassador to India. But after nearly two years of delays, the outcome is still uncertain.
An unusually high number of absences among senators and lingering doubts about how much Garcetti knew about a former top aide’s alleged sexual harassment 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 it is successful, a vote on confirmation would be held Wednesday afternoon.
Sen. Richard J. Durbin of Illinois, who is responsible for counting votes for Democrats, refused to predict Tuesday whether the vote would be successful. Democrats have not “whipped” the vote — or asked each Democratic senator how they intend to vote — “so I don’t assume any outcome until we” vote, he said.
It is unusual for a high-profile nomination to go to the Senate floor and lose. But the White House and Garcetti have strongly pushed for a vote to be held, regardless of the outcome.
That has put a vise around some Democrats who have publicly expressed concern about whether Garcetti knew about the sexual harassment his former aide, Rick Jacobs, allegedly committed.
While at least two Republicans have already supported Garcetti in committee, it is uncertain whether other Republicans would cross the aisle to save a Biden nominee, particularly if Democrats balk.
In addition, 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 (D-N.Y.) has the option to revisit the nomination in the future.
President Biden nominated Garcetti in July 2021. But the nomination withered amid the sexual harassment concerns. Garcetti told lawmakers if he had known about the harassment, he would have done something about it.
With Republicans promising to slow-walk the nomination, Senate Democrats last year were unwilling to waste valuable floor time to move it and instead wanted to focus on legislation that could pass the Democratic-controlled House.
When Republicans took control of the House this year, Senate Democrats pushed most legislation to the back burner and prioritized moving stalled nominees.
The U.S. Embassy in India has been without an ambassador since January 2021, the longest stretch in the history of U.S.-India relations that the post has sat vacant.