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August 3, 1999
Dan Burton Withdraws Anti-India Measure
Republican Congressman Dan Burton, an inveterate critic of India, beat a hasty retreat in the House of Representatives last night, withdrawing his much-publicised amendment, seeking a 25 per cent cut in the US development aid to India in the face of an overwhelming opposition.
Burton wanted to ''punish'' India for what he called its ''unsatisfactory'' human rights record, particularly in Kashmir, and treatment meted out to the minorities in the country. A majority of the members did not share his view, defending India's independent judiciary, free press and elections.
In a 90-minute debate on the measure during the consideration of the foreign operations bill for fiscal 2000, Burton could line up only two law-makers -- Dana Rohrabacher (Republican) and Major R Owens (Democrat) -- to speak in his favour.
In sharp contrast, at least 21 Congressmen, led by the Congressional Caucus on India and Indian-Americans chairman Gary Ackerman (Democrat) -- took up the floor to successfully resist the anti-India proposal. They included House International Relations Committee Chairman Benjamin Gilman and its Asia and Near-East Panel Chairman Douglas K Bereuter (both Republican) and Frank Pallone (Democrat).
The opposition to the anti-India measure was so strong that Burton thought it advisable to withdraw, instead of asking for a division and face a decisive defeat on the floor. His identical amendment two years ago secured the support of only 82 members while 342 voted against it.
Burton cited a drafting for pulling back his amendment. He expressly stated in his measure that India should get no more than $ 33.5 million in developmental assistance, believing that the allocation included the provision for child support, which, in fact, is in a separate account.
What he did in his calculation was to add development assistance with child support, which came to $ 44.7 million. He apparently felt that his limitation of $ 33.5 million was a 25 per cent cut of the $ 44.7 million. But, the actual allocations in the appropriation were $ 28.7 million for developmental assistance and $ 16 million for child support. Because the Burton measure was specifying a dollar amount under the development assistance category of $ 33.5 million, he, in effect, was increasing India's development assistance than what the Clinton administration had budgeted.
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