New Delhi: The US Senate voted 52-42 on Wednesday to confirm former Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti to be the next US ambassador to India.
Garcetti will be the first permanent ambassador to India under President Joe Biden after delays and drama over the nominee.
“The United States-India relationship is extremely important, and it’s a very good thing we now have an ambassador,” Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y., said.
Seven Republicans also voted in favour of the nomination, including Lindsey Graham of South Carolina, Bill Hagerty of Tennessee, Susan Collins of Maine, Steve Daines of Montana, Todd Young of Indiana, Roger Marshall of Kansas and Bill Cassidy of Louisiana.
Three Democrats voted in opposition of the nomination: Mazie Hirono of Hawaii, Sherrod Brown of Ohio and Mark Kelly of Arizona.
The chamber voted earlier in the day to break a filibuster on the former Los Angeles mayor’s nomination, advancing it to a final confirmation vote.
Sen. Tim Kaine, D-Va., who is on the Foreign Relations Committee, said India is the “largest democracy in the world,” a key “ally of the U.S.” and “part of the Quad”.
“This is a really important relationship, getting more important, and they deserve a confirmed ambassador. They do,” Kaine said. “If you don’t confirm an ambassador, the nation kind of receives the message ‘I guess this must not be that important.’ And we don’t want to send that message to any nation, but especially not India.”
Some Republicans have also questioned the qualifications of Garcetti, who was a national co-chair to Biden’s 2020 presidential campaign.
Earlier, a number of Senate Democrats had privately expressed concerns over the nomination, over accusations that Garcetti had ignored alleged sexual harassment and bullying by one of his former senior aides. He has denied the allegations that he ignored the alleged harassment.
Some Democrats had earlier signaled they needed more time to vet the nomination and reach a determination on whether to support it, thereby stalling the nomination. Biden had originally announced his intent to nominate Garcetti to the post in 2021.