The Senate Foreign Relations Committee sent the nomination of Kenneth Ian Juster Oct. 26, to the full Senate for confirmation as President Trump’s choice for ambassador to India. The vote on his confirmation is scheduled to take place Oct. 30, according to the Senate Executive Calendar.
Juster, who was a key player in the making of the U.S. – India civil nuclear agreement back in 2005, is the point-man for carrying forward the administration’s ambitious agenda of strengthening the strategic alliance with India which Washington sees as an emerging global power.
The Senate committee clearance came shortly after Secretary of State Rex Tillerson returned from his first visit to India as a cabinet member. While in India, Tillerson reiterated strong warnings to Pakistan for providing safe havens for terrorists, and elevated India’s role especially in the Indo-Pacific region to counter China’s aggressive moves in the South China Sea and with its One Belt One Road initiative that traces a path through Pakistan-occupied Kashmir.
Juster should be New Delhi bound in the near future, if his confirmation is not held up by partisan political football, though Juster is from most accounts, has bipartisan support. Juster was nominated several months after President Obama’s appointee Richard Verma resigned back in January. Following the Sept. 5 nomination, the Senate Foreign Relations Committee took almost a month to hold a hearing on Oct. 3. Then took nearly three weeks for the Committee to send to the full Senate floor Oct. 26.
At the Oct. 3 hearing of the U.S. Senate Foreign Relations Committee Oct. 3, Senators grilled Juster on a wide range of concerns from the trade imbalance, human rights, bonded labor, sex trafficking and religious liberties, as well as child abduction and infant and maternal mortality.
In his testimony, Juster said he looked forward to advancing “our strategic partnership with India – a relationship that is critical to promoting U.S. national security and economic interests.” He also spoke of the contributions of the nearly 4 million Indian-Americans. He also stressed that as a democracy, India’s government and its civil society community was already “grappling” with issues like bonded labor and human rights as well as sex trafficking. He said he would find the right “interlocutors” to address American concerns in every area of concern.