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Praise pours in for passage of nuclear bill

Last updated on: July 27, 2006 08:33 IST

Chief Deputy Whip Joseph Crowley, member of the House International Relations Committee and former Democratic chairman of the Caucus on India and Indian Americans, today hailed the passage of the legislation supporting the transfer of US civilian nuclear technology to India in the House of Representatives. 

The United States and India Nuclear Cooperation Promotion Act of 2006 authorizes the President to waive the application of certain requirements under the Atomic Energy Act of 1954 with respect to India, while asserting Congressional oversight of the negotiations of the deal. All deal-breaking amendments were successfully defeated.  The landmark legislation passed in a 359-68 vote.

In his message Congressman Crowley said, 'Today we have begun the process of positively redirecting our relationship with India -- a move that will bring both our nations closer and cement a critical partnership that will continue for decades.

'As someone who has fought for this agreement between the United States and India for a long time, I consider today's vote a strong indicator of support to the goal of achieving a strategic and economic alliance between the world's largest democracy and the world's oldest democracy.

'I must also recognize the Indian American community for its incredible advocacy work done to educate members of Congress on the importance of this agreement.'

'The success of this deal now lies in the hands of President Bush and the Indian government, who both understand the high stakes of this historic opportunity for both nations,' Congressman Crowley added. 

The House Resolution asserts Congress's role in the partnership by calling for a two-step process that verifies specific conditions be fulfilled in order for final passage of the bill authorizing the initiative to occur. Under the legislation, the President has to submit the US-India Nuclear agreement to Congress before a subsequent legislation approving the agreement is passed. 

The subsequent legislation would be an 'up-or-down' vote with expedited procedures if the President:  

  • Makes a number of certifications related to India and nonproliferation (along with a detailed report);
  • Exempts the agreement from certain restrictions contained in the Atomic Energy Act; and
  • Submits to Congress the India-IAEA agreement on safeguards for India's civilian nuclear facilities. 

Additionally, member nations of the Nuclear Suppliers Group must unanimously approve the deal, before a fast-tracked, up-or-down vote on the bill happens in Congress.

'This legislation creates a two-step process and by passing the United States and India Nuclear Cooperation Promotion Act today we have taken that critical first step,' Congressman Crowley said. 'The second step rests upon negotiations between the United States and India, as well as, India and the International Atomic Energy Agency and with the Nuclear Suppliers Group.'

Congressman Joe Wilson, past Co-Chair of the Congressional Caucus on India and Indian Americans, made the following statement:

'Today we approved a monumental piece of legislation that will strengthen our non-proliferation efforts, increase national security and create jobs. This is an issue I have worked on for some time and is very near to my heart. Chairman Henry Hyde, Ranking Member Tom Lantos and other members of the International Relations Committee are to be commended for crafting a well-balanced piece of legislation.

'While working on this bill, we encountered resistance from some who did not want this agreement to come to fruition. Thankfully, we were able to overcome their obstructionist efforts and approve this critical measure.

'Passage of this agreement holds countless economic benefits for the United States. Secretary Condoleezza Rice has noted that as many as 5,000 direct jobs and 15,000 indirect jobs could be created as a result of this agreement. In addition, India will be better positioned to compete in the global economy, and trade between our countries will continue to grow.'

Congressman Wilson serves on the House Committee on International Relations and is past Co-Chair of the Congressional Caucus on India and Indian Americans.

Lt Gen Daniel W Christman (Retd), chairman of the Coalition for Partnership with India and senior vice president for International Affairs at the US Chamber of Commerce, issued the following statement regarding the House passage of HR 5682, the United States and India Nuclear Cooperation and Promotion Act of 2006:

'We're pleased the House took an important step today in advancing the landmark US-India civilian nuclear cooperation agreement. But it was only one step in many that now must follow. While Congress has the right -- and responsibility -- to examine this deal closely, it must also do so in an expeditious manner. The sooner the agreement is finalized, the sooner American companies and citizens can begin to enjoy its significant economic and national security benefits.

'The United States and India negotiated this agreement with tremendous good faith and in anticipation of strengthening an historic alliance between two of the world's great democracies. It would be truly unfortunate for that vision to get bogged down in the legislative meat grinder. We therefore urge Congress to move as quickly as possible in making this agreement a reality.'

The USIndia Forum said it congratulates everyone who has provided support for the passage of the nuclear bill. 'We call on members of the Indian American community and their organizations through out the country to stay focused on getting the legislations passed in similar manner in the US Senate also,' a statement from the Forum said.

The USIndia Forum, a Dallas-based organization, was 'delighted to provide 37 per cent of the co-sponsors for this bill and 94 per cent of the Texas congressional delegation voted in favor of this bill. We believe in getting the job done quietly and in a fashion that makes our organization effective in its own way,' the statement said.

'Now our focus will be Senate bill S3709. Our friend Senator Cornyn, Co-Chair of the Friends of India Caucus in the Senate (unlike the other co-chair Senator Clinton) along with Senator Hutchison has been forceful voice in support of this bill and has provided great leadership and continues to foster stronger ties between the two great nations.

'The USIndia Forum in Dallas will continue to work with other organizations and individuals to ensure immediate Senate consideration of S3709 when Senators return from recess in September,' the statement issued by A K Mago, chairman of the forum, said.

Aziz Haniffa in Washington, DC