President Joe Biden plans to renominate former Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti to be ambassador to India and attempt to fill other key vacancies, according to two administration officials — one of the White House’s first moves to try to capitalize on Democrats’ expanded Senate majority.
Garcetti’s nomination has been stalled for months amid a chilly reception from a number of senators, including some Democrats, following allegations that while serving as mayor he ignored complaints of sexual harassment against one of his aides. Those allegations were included in an investigative report released by Sen. Charles Grassley, R-Iowa, who was among the members who opposed the nomination. Garcetti has denied any wrongdoing.
His nomination and some others lapsed at the end of the previous Congress, leaving the White House to choose whether to submit them again in the new Congress to restart the process.
Biden also plans to renominate his picks for the Federal Aviation Administration, Phil Washington, and the Internal Revenue Service, Danny Werfel, an administration official said.
The Wall Street Journal first reported the president’s plans.
Asked last month about Garcetti’s nomination, Sen. Bob Menendez, D-N.J., the Foreign Relations Committee chair, wouldn’t say if he wanted the former mayor to be renominated.
“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 nominee given the headwinds Garcetti faces.
“He has a very impressive portfolio as it relates to India,” Young told NBC. “He has his extensive knowledge about the country and would be well equipped in so many ways to represent the administration there. But more important than anything else is just getting someone trusted by the president in that position. Too much time has passed.”
India is a key ally for the U.S. that has been without a American ambassador since Biden took office. Both countries are part of the Quadrilateral Security Dialogue, known as the Quad, which also includes Australia and Japan. India also is scheduled to host this year’s summit of the Group of 20 leading rich and developing nations.
Andrea Mitchell and Sahil Kapur contributed.