A key Congressional panel has voted in favour of the nomination of Los Angeles Mayor Eric M Garcetti to serve as the US Ambassador to India. US President Joe Biden nominated Garcetti as his ambassador to India in July last year. If confirmed by the Senate, Garcetti, 50, would replace Kenneth Juster, who served as the US Ambassador to India during the Trump administration. Juster was appointed as a distinguished fellow at the Council on Foreign Relations in July.
Besides Garcetti, the powerful Senate Foreign Relations Committee on Wednesday endorsed 11 other ambassadorial nominations, including Amy Gutmann to be the US Ambassador to Germany, Donald Armin Blome to be the Ambassador to Pakistan and Joe Donnelly to be the envoy to the Holy See.
The nominations now move to the Senate floor for a final confirmation vote.”It is bipartisan that these vacancies be filled whichever party is in control of the White House,” Ranking Member Jim Risch said.Senator Bob Menendez, Chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, rued that over 55 nominees were still pending before the committee and many challenges around the world are awaiting them.
“As I have said many times before this committee and on the Senate floor, prolonged vacancies are not in our interests. They undermine our national security, hinder our leadership role abroad and benefit only our adversaries,” he said.“Turning to the nominees we are considering today, I won’t speak about each of them, but I do want to say that I believe they are all well qualified and deserving of their nominations. I will be voting for them and look forward to their swift confirmation,” Menendez said.Risch voted ‘No’ against the German ambassadorial nominee.
“I’m going to record a ‘no’ vote against Dr Guttman, but it is not personal. I stand ready to work with her and to strengthen our alliance with Germany. I also expect her to engage in efforts to stop the construction of the Nord Stream two pipeline. I am a no, not because of her qualifications,” he said.
“Certainly, she’s qualified, she’s had a long and successful career, but I think that probably as with her position with the University of Pennsylvania, it really is a poster child for the ongoing and growing malign influence of China and at our institutions of higher learning, the University of Pennsylvania has accepted millions and millions of dollars in donations in contracts from China,” Risch said.
“The issue of foreign influence, particularly that of the Chinese, in US higher education institutions is very important to this committee and we have made efforts and we continue, and I have worked with the chairman on this to pursue efforts to put a stop to this. And it is important. We do so the University of Pennsylvania is a large organisation, but I remain troubled,” he said.
After Biden’s nomination, Garcetti had said he was honoured to accept the nomination and will bring the same energy, commitment and love with which he served the sprawling city to his new role in the world’s largest democracy.”Today, the President announced that I am his nominee to serve as US Ambassador to India. I am honoured to accept his nomination to serve in this role,” Garcetti, a Democrat, had said in a statement soon after Biden announced his nomination.
He has travelled several times to India, most recently as a councilman. In college, he spent a year studying Hindi and Urdu.“It’s the largest democracy in the world, soon to be the most populous country in the world, one of the top handful of superpowers in the world,” Garcetti said.
“We can’t get our climate goals without India hitting its climate goals. We can’t see the economy truly reopened to international commerce and tourism until COVID is under control. We’re all very closely connected,” he told the Los Angeles Times in an interview. During 12 years as an Intelligence Officer in the U.S. Navy Reserve Component, Garcetti served under the Commander, US Pacific Fleet and the Defence Intelligence Agency, retiring in 2017 as a Lieutenant.
Garcetti has also served as a national co-chair of Biden’s presidential campaign.Commenting on his nomination, the Los Angeles Times wrote that the ambassadorship in President Biden’s administration gives Garcetti a new career path, away from electoral politics.