Washington — The Senate on Wednesday narrowly advanced former Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti’s nomination to serve as U.S. ambassador to India, with Republican senators helping to clear the way for President Biden to reward a political ally and early campaign supporter.

The Senate voted 52 to 42 to clear a procedural hurdle and advance Garcetti’s nomination the ambassadorship, with seven Republicans voting in favor of the nomination and three Democrats voting against it. A final vote on the nomination is expected Wednesday afternoon.

Garcetti’s bid for the New Delhi post has been ensnared in controversy after a Senate investigation found he was likely aware of sexual harassment and racist comments from a former top aide while he was mayor of the nation’s second-largest city, a post he held from 2013 to 2022. 

The May 2022 report, commissioned by GOP Sen. Chuck Grassley, said the aide, Rick Jacobs, likely “sexually harassed multiple individuals and made racist comments towards others.” Since Garcetti was “very involved in the day-to-day operation of his office,” the report determined it was “extremely unlikely” that the mayor was unaware of the behavior. Senate investigators noted that a report commissioned by the city of Los Angeles cleared both men of wrongdoing, but determined that those findings suffered from “major deficiencies” that called into question its conclusions.

The White House denounced the Senate report as a partisan attack, and Garcetti said he “strongly disagree[d]” with its conclusions, calling the investigation “one-sided” and “biased.” At his confirmation hearing before the Senate Foreign Relations Committee in December 2021, Garcetti testified that he “never witnessed, nor was it brought to my attention, that behavior that has been alleged.”

Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti, nominated to be U.S. ambassador to India, testifies during a Senate Foreign Relations Committee confirmation hearing on Tuesday, Dec. 14, 2021.

Photo By Tom Williams/CQ-Roll Call, Inc via Getty Images

The advancement of the nomination marks a victory for Garcetti, who previously entertained a run for the 2020 Democratic presidential nomination. The vote was also a win for the White House, which declined to withdraw the nomination even as Garcetti’s support seemed to be on shaky ground.

President Biden initially nominated Garcetti to the ambassadorship in July 2021, nearly two years ago. The president renominated Garcetti this year with the start of a new Congress. 

Garcetti endorsed Mr. Biden for president in early January 2020, a pivotal time for Mr. Biden as he sought to fend off other Democrats in the primaries. 

“Joe Biden is a close personal friend who has been an incredible partner in delivering progress for L.A.,” Garcetti said at the time. “He came to L.A. and stood shoulder to shoulder with me to make us the first big city to enact a $15 minimum wage, and he brought leaders from all over the world to our city to forge the most sweeping climate agreement prior to the Paris accords.”

Jack Turman contributed reporting.