- Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti was nominated for the position in July 2021, but his confirmation has remained in limbo in the U.S. Senate.
Rep. Ro Khanna (D-Calif.) says it’s time to confirm an ambassador to India. “The U.S. needs a strong defense and strategic partnership with India, especially in the face of escalating aggression from China,” the Indian American congressman tweeted on Nov. 14. “2 years into this administration, it’s time to confirm an ambassador to India to strengthen this critical relationship & our national security.”
The position of U.S. ambassador to India has been lying vacant since Biden assumed office on Jan. 20, 2021. Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti was nominated for the position in July 2021, but his confirmation has remained in limbo in the U.S. Senate.
Ken Juster was the last U.S. Ambassador to India.
Last month, career diplomat Elizabeth Jones was named chargé d’affaires ad interim to the U.S. embassy in New Delhi, making her the fifth temporary appointment to India since January 2021.
In his tweet, Khanna attached an op-ed from The Washington Post, where author Ronak Desai, an associate at the Lakshmi Mittal and Family South Asia Institute at Harvard University, observes that the relations between the two countries are “suffering” as a result of not appointing an ambassador. “India is one of America’s most vital strategic partners,” he notes. “Several long-term U.S. objectives — from defense and trade to energy and health care — are advanced through our relationship with the world’s largest democracy.”
Further noting that the U.S is India’s “largest trading partner and one of its top arms suppliers,” he writes that “Delhi is also crucial to Washington’s efforts to contain a rising China.” The country’s “strong foreign relations” with India are supported by “a bipartisan consensus,” and “remain one of the rare areas of convergence between America’s two political parties,” he writes.
Meanwhile, Garrett’s confirmation is still in limbo, a year later. This January, President Biden re-nominated him after nominating him last July. Republican Iowa Sens. Joni Ernst and Chuck Grassley have both placed a hold on Garcetti’s nomination. The president’s pick is facing resistance not only from the GOP but from a few Democrats as well “over his professed lack of knowledge about sexual assault and harassment allegations against a top adviser,” according to Politico. And without full party unity, the Los Angeles mayor might not make it.
In a recent interview with Los Angeles magazine, Garcetti said he’s optimistic about his confirmation. “I think this will happen.” But at the same time, he described himself as “a grounded and happy individual,” who loves his city. “I’ve had two decades of the most extraordinary honor and privilege of improving my town, of representing it nationally and on the world stage. I have enough memories to live on for the rest of my life.”
He told the magazine that he looks at the delay in the confirmation as “a gift,” which let me stay an extra year and finish his term. “And now I have zero guilt, which I would’ve always carried if I left before my term was over.” But he admitted that it has been “frustrating watching Washington move so slowly and the untruths that bounced back and forth. That’s been less than pleasant. But Joe Biden’s loyalty to me and vice versa speaks for itself.”