N-deal is done; Senate gives 86-13 thumbs up

October 2nd, 2008 - 8:25 am ICT by IANS  

Barack ObamaWashington, Oct 2 (IANS) The India-US civil nuclear deal cleared its last legislative hurdle with the US Senate approving it with an overwhelming 86-13 vote, four days after the House of Representatives gave it an equally emphatic 298-117 endorsement.The approval legislation was passed by the House at 8.49 p.m. Wednesday (6.19 a.m. IST Thursday) after the upper chamber rejected by voice vote a ‘killer amendment’ proposed by two Democrats, Byron Dorgan and Jeff Bingaman.

Congressional approval clears the decks for President George W. Bush to sign it into law and present the implementing 123 accord as a done deal to New Delhi after taking care of a couple of Indian concerns relating to reprocessing of spent fuel, and fuel supply assurances.

Both the presidential candidates, Democrat Barack Obama and Republican John McCain voted for the deal. So did former first lady Hillary Clinton and Obama’s vice presidential running mate, Joe Biden.

The Dorgan-Bingaman amendment sought to end nuclear cooperation with India in the event of New Delhi conducting a test. The House legislation has a similar provision, but the passage of the amendment would have sent it back to the lower chamber for reconciliation as the President can sign into law only an identical measure.

Earlier, as the Senate began a debate on the deal Wednesday morning Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice sent a letter to Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid saying the Bush Administration would prefer a “clean legislation” without any new amendments.

But she also held out an assurance that a nuclear test by India would result in “most serious consequences”, including automatic cut-off of US cooperation as well as a number of other sanctions.

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