Washington: A key senatorial committee on Wednesday voted 13-8 to advance the nomination of Eric Garcetti as US Ambassador to India.

Garcetti, 52, is the former mayor of Los Angeles and his nomination has been pending before the US Congress since July 2021, when he was nominated for this prestigious diplomatic posting by President Joe Biden.

The Senate Foreign Relations Committee at its business meeting on Wednesday voted 13-8 in favor of the nomination of Garcetti. Now the nomination heads to the Senate floor for a full vote.

Two Republican Senators – Todd Young and Bill Hagerty – Wednesday afternoon voted in favour of Garcetti, joining the Democratic lawmakers and passing the nomination through the Senatorial committee.

Garcetti wasn’t confirmed in Biden’s first two years in office amid concerns by some lawmakers that as the then-mayor he hadn’t adequately handled allegations against a former senior adviser of sexual assault and harassment. Senator Chuck Grassley this week called for voting against him.

GOP Senator Young defended his decision to vote in favour of Garcetti.

“It’s in our national security interest to have an ambassador immediately in place in India in order to balance China, work with the US throughout the Indo-Pacific…He has an imperfect resume, but the skills to succeed in this capacity,” Young said.

“We must ensure that any chief of mission will, without question, protect our foreign service officers and embassy staff from all types of harassment,” said Senator Jim Risch, Ranking member of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee.

The White House continues to have full confidence in Garcetti. Last week it told reporters that Garcetti is qualified to serve as the US ambassador to India.

“Eric Garcetti was voted out in a bipartisan way out of (the Senate Foreign Relations Committee). So clearly, he has had bipartisan support, which is very important in this process. We encourage and look forward to the Senate moving forward with his nomination on the floor,” White House Press Secretary Karine Jean-Pierre told reporters here last week.

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