It is an embarrassment not to have a US Ambassador to India, says lawmaker
Washington: The absence of a US Ambassador to India for more than two years now is an embarrassment, a top Democratic Senator said Thursday, floating the idea of an “equally qualified” candidate if the current nominee Eric Garcetti is not able to get enough votes for a Senatorial confirmation.
Garcetti, 52, a former Mayor of Los Angeles, was nominated by President Joe Biden for US Ambassador to India in July 2021. His nomination was not brought to the Senate floor for a vote as the ruling Democratic Party did not have enough support to get him through.
“It is an embarrassment that we say this is one of the most valuable relationships in the world, and yet we’ve not appointed an ambassador,” Senator Mark Warner, Chairman of the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence, told PTI when asked about the issue.
Warner, who was part of a Congressional delegation to India last week, said that Indians also raised the issues of the absence of an ambassador at this important time. “I think that the message was relayed. I think our acting Charles affair is doing a good job,” he said.
Warner is also Co-Chair of the Senate India Caucus, the largest and only country-specific caucus in the Senate. “One other thing our Indian friends have said is, you say these things (about strong ties with India), but you don’t even have an ambassador. Now that (confirmation) has been caught up in domestic politics, but I think we all came away committed that Mr. Garcetti, who’s been nominated by the president, needs to have a vote,” he said.
“If he gets in, great. If he doesn’t get in, we need to have an equally qualified, competent person right behind. We cannot continue this relationship without a Senate confirmed ambassador here. It is disrespectful if we don’t do that,” Warner said in response to a question.
Republicans and some members of Garcetti’s own party were opposed to his nomination because of the allegations of sexual misconduct by some of the staffers in the Mayor’s Office. Though the hold on his nomination had been lifted, he could not be confirmed by the last Congress.
Biden renominated Garcetti to the same position in January this year. Senate Foreign Relations Committee Chairman Bob Menendez scheduled a vote on his nomination on February 28. However, Republican Senator Marco Rubio placed a hold on his nomination. The vote by the committee has now been postponed till March 8.
“One of these nominees has ignored credible sexual assault accusations in his prior office. I will not turn a blind eye to these absurd nominations, which will hasten America’s decline,” said Rubio, who is the vice chair of Senate Select Committee on Intelligence.