Two Republican senators broke from the rest of the GOP pack on the Senate Foreign Relations Committee and voted with the committee Democrats to advance former Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti to be ambassador to India.
Sens. Bill Hagerty, R-Tenn., and Todd Young, R-Ind., voted in the affirmative Wednesday to send Garcetti, whose nomination has been languishing for over 600 days over a sexual harassment scandal in his former office, to the Senate floor for a final confirmation vote.
Hagerty and Young broke from all other committee Republicans who voted against Garcetti. Ranking member Jim Risch, R-Idaho, remarked on Wednesday that “while information on the question of his knowledge of harassment by a former senior aide is still being collected, new evidence has raised enough questions regarding his judgment that I will be voting no.”
“It’s a national security imperative to immediately have an ambassador in place in India. We can’t afford to wait any longer,” Young told Fox News Digital of his vote.
A representative for Hagerty did not immediately respond to Fox News Digital’s request for comment.
President Biden nominated Garcetti in July 2021. After clearing his first committee hurdle, Garcetti failed to earn a full Senate vote after new revelations about a sexual harassment lawsuit involving his former top adviser came to light and Republicans and some Democrats opposed his confirmation.
Sen. Marco Rubio, R-Fla., had placed a hold on the nomination last month, saying Garcetti “has ignored credible sexual assault accusations in his prior office” and calling the nomination “absurd.”
Those accusations are highlighted in a pending lawsuit against Rick Jacobs, Garcetti’s former chief of staff. Jacobs is being accused of sexual harassment in the form of inappropriate comments, unwanted kissing and touching, and sexual advances against a male LAPD officer assigned to Garcetti’s security detail, a male reporter and other whistleblowers.
Naomi Seligman, Garcetti’s former communications director and a whistleblower who testified to sexual abuse at L.A. City Hall, slammed the Wednesday vote, calling it “disheartening to say the least.”
“Today’s vote, on International Women’s Day no less, shows a real disconnect between the rhetoric we hear from elected leaders who claim to support victims of workplace sexual harassment and the pass they give to party loyalists in the next breath. It’s disheartening to say the least,” Seligman said.
“It was already clear from the time of his nomination that Garcetti was unfit to represent our country, and each passing month reveals new embarrassments to the president and the Senate,” she continued.
Senior Republican Sen. Chuck Grassley, R-Iowa., opened an investigation last year into the matter with his office, conducting interviews with 15 witnesses and examining 26 depositions and other documentary evidence, including emails and text messages. Grassley’s investigative staff concluded that Garcetti “likely knew, or should have known, that his former senior adviser was sexually harassing and making racist remarks toward multiple individuals.”
“Nobody is that brazen to engage in this type of outrageous behavior against other people unless they know that they have a powerful enabler protecting them. Based on the facts and the evidence, that enabler is Mayor Eric Garcetti,” Grassley said last year.
The White House called that investigation a “hit job” and said President Joe Biden has maintained full support in his nominee who is “well qualified to serve in this vital role.”