US lawmakers across political divide seek quick n-deal approval

September 17th, 2008 - 10:08 pm ICT by IANS  

Manmohan SinghWashington, Sep 17 (IANS) A group of lawmakers from across the political divide have sought a quick passage of the India-US civil nuclear accord with the Bush administration pushing to get the deal done before Prime Minister Manmohan Singh’s visit next week.In a letter, circulated to all the 435 members of the US House of Representatives, the bipartisan group of five lawmakers said the expeditious approval of the agreement will be beneficial to both the countries and it should be passed by Congress before breaking off Sep 26 for Nov 4 elections.

“As past and present co-chairs of the Congressional Caucus on India and Indian Americans, we are asking you to support this agreement which provides for peaceful nuclear cooperation between the two democracies,” three Republican and two Democratic lawmakers said in the letter addressed to their colleagues.

“Passage of this measure in an expedient manner will be beneficial to both the countries,” they said.

Signatories to the letter among the Democrats were Gary Ackerman and Joseph Crowley from New York and Frank Pallone from New Jersey while the Republicans were represented by Joe Wilson from South Carolina and California’s Edward Royce.

“This historic agreement for the two nations has won approval from the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) and the 45-nation Nuclear Suppliers Group (NSG).

“It would enhance US-India economic relations and assist the world’s largest democracy to successfully meet growing energy needs. Congress must act quickly to ensure passage on this agreement before recessing,” the lawmakers said.

Wilson also shot off a letter to the House Foreign Affairs Committee’s Democratic chairman Howard Berman to schedule a quick hearing on the landmark pact to put it on the fast track for approval.

Unlike his counterpart on the Senate panel, Joe Biden, who is also the Democratic vice presidential candidate, Berman who supports the nuclear deal but has some reservations about the NSG waiver to India, is yet to call such a hearing. The Senate panel is meeting Thursday to review the deal.

Under the Congressional rules, the two foreign affairs panels have to recommend the deal to the two chambers for approval in an up or down or yes or no vote as also how to go about it by waiving a mandatory 30-day waiting period for the legislation.

Seeking the support of Berman, Wilson said: “As co-chair of the Congressional Caucus on India and Indian Americans, I am writing to support passage of the US-India Civil Nuclear Cooperation Agreement.”

Given that the international community has decided to end over three decades of India’s nuclear isolation, Republican Wilson said the next logical step for the US is to enter into a nuclear agreement with the country.

With the approval from the NSG and the IAEA already in hand, Wilson wrote, “the international community has recognised that India is a responsible global partner and assisting India with its energy needs is a positive step for our two democracies.

“I respectfully request that you consider including this historic agreement in the next House Committee on Foreign Affairs’ mark-up so the full House will have an opportunity to vote on this measure before our scheduled adjournment,” Wilson added.

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