Los Angeles Times

Pressure builds on mayor’s nomination

Senate recess, election could scuttle Garcetti’s shot at ambassador post

- By Dakota Smith and Benjamin Oreskes

With the U.S. Senate scheduled to go on recess this week, is it now or never for Mayor Eric Garcetti and India?

The Senate typically pushes through a slog of bills and nominees before it goes on recess.

But it all comes down to whether Senate Majority Leader Charles E. Schumer (D-N.Y.) wants to take up a vote this week on the mayor’s nomination for the ambassador post.

If it doesn’t happen now, Garcetti faces an uncertain fall. In September, when the Senate returns, Schumer is less likely to schedule controvers­ial votes and certainly not ones where an “aye” from every Democrat isn’t assured.

Then there’s the question of what will happen in November and beyond. If the Democrats lose the Senate — which isn’t a foregone conclusion but certainly possible — Garcetti’s nomination would probably be toast.

During the mayor’s trip to Washington in the latter part of July, Garcetti attended the Congressio­nal Hispanic Caucus’ business meeting, according to a statement from the group.

The statement noted its “full support” for Garcetti for the India post and included a photo showing the mayor smiling alongside the group’s chairman, Rep. Raul Ruiz (D-Coachella).

The Hispanic Caucus is largely composed of lawmakers in the House, who have no formal role in Senate-confirmed positions such as an ambassador post.

Rep. Salud Carbajal (DSanta Barbara) did not attend the meeting but told The Times he briefly bumped into Garcetti at a social event last week.

In addition to Garcetti talking about his work for Los Angeles, Carbajal recalled: “We also chatted about his confirmati­on and what that’s looking like. And, by all accounts, I think there seems to be a positive path forward, for the most part.”

In recent weeks, reporters have seen the mayor at the White House and the Capitol complex.

The Senate Foreign Relations Committee advanced Garcetti’s nomination in January.

The Times reported in May that several Democrats expressed hesitation over backing Garcetti, suggesting bipartisan support would be necessary to get his nomination across the finish line.

The mayor and his former chief of staff face allegation­s that they were aware of a former top Garcetti aide’s inappropri­ate behavior. Both Garcetti and the former chief of staff deny the allegation­s, and the aide denies harassing anyone.

Sen. Tim Kaine (D-Va.), a member of the foreign relations panel, told The Times on Wednesday that there was an effort to appeal to Republican­s who could support Garcetti on the Senate floor.

“I’ve just got nothing to report,” he said of the nomination’s status.

On Thursday, the mayor declined to say which Republican­s he was courting to support his nomination. “I have been open and excited to talk to all,” Garcetti said, “whether they are Democratic or Republican senators.”

When a Times reporter asked whether it was “now or never” for his nomination, the mayor said he was “focused on being mayor” and added: “The meetings I took, I wasn’t in D.C. on this issue.”

“I took three different meetings,” he said, which were about transporta­tion, COVID-19 and the Summit of the Americas.

When the reporter pointed out that he also met with the Hispanic Caucus, and told the mayor he wasn’t being truthful, Garcetti walked away.

The mayor was also seen recently in D.C. with Breelyn Pete, a lobbyist hired by Garcetti’s parents, Sukey and Gil Garcetti, to advocate for the mayor’s nomination.

The lobbying firm where she works reported Thursday $30,000 in income during the second quarter tied to Garcetti’s parents. The firm lobbied the White House, Senate and House, according to the firm’s filing.

The League of Conservati­on Voters also reported that it lobbied for Garcetti’s India post in the second quarter.

To this point, 95 of Biden’s ambassador nominees have been confirmed. Garcetti is one of 34 nomination­s being considered, according to the Partnershi­p for Public Service.

Former Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel also faced opposition from some Democratic senators after he was nominated to be ambassador to Japan, but several Republican senators backed him when it came time for his Senate vote.

Times staff writers Nolan McCaskill in Washington and Julia Wick in Los Angeles contribute­d to this report.

A version of this article originally appeared in The Times’ local elections newsletter, L.A. on the Record. To subscribe, visit www.latimes.com/ newsletter­s.

 ?? Wally Skalij Los Angeles Times ?? L.A. MAYOR Eric Garcetti, right, and Transporta­tion Secretary Pete Buttigieg attend a July 7 news conference at Los Angeles Internatio­nal Airport.
Wally Skalij Los Angeles Times L.A. MAYOR Eric Garcetti, right, and Transporta­tion Secretary Pete Buttigieg attend a July 7 news conference at Los Angeles Internatio­nal Airport.

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