Both Senate Majority Leader Leader Bill Frist and Minority Leader Harry Reid have pledged to debate and vote on the enabling legislation to facilitate the US-India civilian nuclear agreement when the Senate convened on Thursday.
Frist, before going into conference with Reid to nail down the schedule, said: "As we stated on Wednesday before we leave this week, either on Friday or we could finish it late Thursday night, we do need to finish the US-India nuclear agreement."
"We talked on Wednesday in our own conference about the importance of that particular piece of legislation that all our colleagues are familiar with and have unanimous consent on proceeding with a fixed number of amendments. If you look at the amendments, it is clear that we would not have to do all of these amendments on the list," he said.
"We can and will finish that bill before we leave," a confident Frist said.
Reid said: "It is so important that we do whatever we can to pass this nuclear agreement that has been negotiated with India. India is the largest democracy in the world and we have had tremendous relations with them over the last number of years."
"It will send a great sign to the rest of the world that we are able to work on issues of this importance and actually get it done. I hope we can do this, I am confident that we can," he added.
Reid noted that Senator Joe Biden, ranking Democrat on the Foreign Relations Committee and co-author of the enabling legislation S 3709 with Committee chairman Richard Lugar, who will manage the Democrats' amendments, had said that "there were a lot of these amendments that he was aware of that they could work out or accept."
"So I am hopeful that we can finish it today, tonight or tomorrow. There's no reason we shouldn't be able to. We've a number of amendments that has been locked in."
Reid said that "There is no way that this matter shouldn't be completed now. I think it is very important that we go into the Thanksgiving period with a full Thanksgiving that we've been able to work out something between the two democracies."