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Home > News > Report

'Time was always the enemy for N-deal'

Aziz Haniffa in Washington, DC | October 07, 2006 18:11 IST

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The pro-India lobby among US industry and business, who along with Indian American community activists collectively drove the momentum to push for the US-India civilian nuclear agreement, have mobilized once again to push through the bill during the lame-duck session next month.

Ron Somers, president of the US-India Business Council, told, "Right now, our whole focus has to be to ensure that it's first in the queue for the lame-duck session."

"We have already engaged on both sides of the aisle," he noted, "and, of course, we are now seeking assurances from both sides that this is a high priority not only for the Administration but for the Democrats."

Somers said, "So everyone is now alert to the fact that this is viewed as a setback, that this is going to benefit our foreign competitors, the US industry and the Indian American community are hopeful that we can get this back on track in the lame-duck session."

He refused to assign blame on either the Democrats or the Republicans, for failing to bring the legislation to the floor, except to say, "Time was always the enemy. From the very outset, time was always the enemy and it was a very crowded legislative calendar. We are all aware of the issues that made it through and so, we were always struggling to ensure that there was sufficient time."

"We were hopeful that the momentum of the House bill and the large bipartisan majority would carry to the Senate, but as we got closer to the conclusion of the session, obviously some bills of national priority outflanked this one," Somers said, adding: "So, now our job is to raise this back up to the surface as the most important priority."

Somers said: "this is the most important foreign policy priority in years, and so it's something worth all of us putting our shoulders behind."

"This issue is far too important to let slip away and this now has reenergized industry to ensure that we have the legislation passed before the year ends and that means that we must make it a priority in the lame-duck session and that's our duty right now," he argued.

"Our duty is to get up on Capitol Hill and to make it a bipartisan issue, to ensure that it enjoys overwhelming bipartisan support and that we get this legislation passed for the benefit of both our countries and for the benefit of democracy for the 21st century," Somers said.

North Carolina-based community activist Swadesh Chatterjee, coordinator of the United States-India Friendship Council, set up six months ago with the specific mandate of getting the nuclear deal cleared, acknowledged the "deep disappointment" in the community over the Senate's inaction before the recess, particularly after the Council had built up bipartisan support for the agreement over a series of sustained Congressional receptions on Capitol Hill and through several fund-raisers for leading lawmakers.

But Chatterjee told, "I was disappointed for two days, but now I am gung-ho and we are ready to go because we have to make it happen."

Consequently, he said: "Once again we are working the phone, e-mailing furiously and conference calling and talking to our base to re-energize them and revive the momentum."

He said the strategy going forward was "very simple and it's the same strategy -- talking to the leaders, both Republican and Democrat -- and trying to convince them how important it is to approve it during the lame-duck session. That immediately they come back, that they start the process."

"And we have to put pressure on the Administration also, and also unite the community to keep the momentum going," he said, though adding, "sustaining the momentum we built up before the recess is certainly a challenge."

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Number of User Comments: 2

Sub: Kudos for good work, but neither dems nor reps care

All the good work for helping out delhi mafias deserves credit. Kudos for the outstanding effort. It appears that pakistani lobby has engaged dems and ...

Posted by Jatin Patel

Sub: Re: N-deal: 'Time always an enemy'

This is a test of leadership and democracy and it is very important in the interest of India and the US that the Senate clears ...

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