No Recess for the Wicked

Ex-Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti will not be going to India anytime soon.

The United States Senate, which has so far not deigned to approve Garcetti as Ambassador to India, has blocked any hope of President Biden naming him “Acting Ambassador” through a recess appointment by scheduling multiple “pro forma” sessions between now and January 3, 2023 when they formerly reconvene.

Biden could have appointed Garcetti directly only if and when the Senate was in “recess,” hence the term. But with the Senate technically meeting (pro forma means just that – a session is gaveled in, usually to an empty chamber, and then nearly immediately gaveled out) every three days, the Senate will never technically be in recess. 

Senatorial observers do not believe the additional sessions were scheduled specifically to scotch Garcetti’s dreams of a very merry Christmas, pointing out the Senate took to scheduling these types of sessions after President Obama tried to appoint three new members of the National Labor Relations Board in a similar fashion – an action that was overturned unanimously by the Supreme Court in 2014.

Members of Congress, on a bipartisan basis, tend to see any attempt by the executive branch to thwart its rights and rule and procedures as very irritating and insulting and started semi-regularly scheduling such sessions after the decision in order to make sure such a trick play could never happen again.

With a recess appointment off the table, Garcetti would have to be formally re-nominated by Biden next year and start the process all over again from square one. While the Democrats briefly had an outright majority of 51 seats in the Senate (until Arizona’s Kyrsten Sinema declared herself an independent), Garcetti is still facing largely the exact same people who declined to even vote on his appointment this year and it is believed that there are more than a few Democrats who are very leery, if not downright hostile, to Garcetti getting the gig.

That hostility stems from Garcetti’s almost assured enabling complicity in the alleged brazen sexual harassment and open racism of his chief political fixer Rick Jacobs, see here.

Garcetti has steadfastly denied even being aware of any allegations against Jacobs, stating in his appearance before a Sente committee last year “I want to say unequivocally that I never witnessed, nor was it brought to my attention, the behavior that’s been alleged, and I also want to assure you if it had been, I would have immediately taken action to stop that.”

That statement has been roundly condemned as a falsehood, and has crippled his confirmation effort.

If he is re-nominated, and not shunted off to some administration sinecure that does not require Senate confirmation, it is possible that Garcetti may try to soften his adamantine stance regarding Jacobs. However, as a lawsuit filed against the City of Los Angeles by a former Garcetti security officer alleging Jacobs’ on-going harassment is expected to go to trial in January, changing his tune in front of the Senate may undermine the city’s defense and/or expose Garcetti personally to legal trouble (he has denied under oath he witnessed or was aware of the problem.)

The allegations against Jacobs come from multiple credible sources, men and women, and do not involve simply telling an off-color joke or complementing someone on their outfit – the alleged actions would make the writers of “Mad Men” blush and were a very open secret in City Hall.

The Biden White House said recently they remain committed to Garcetti’s appointment.

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