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Indo-US nuclear bill hits procedural roadblock
December 07, 2006 09:41 IST
Last Updated: December 07, 2006 13:01 IST
A legislation to implement the historic Indo-US civilian nuclear deal appeared to have hit a roadblock.
The conferees of the House of Representatives and Senate failed to file a final report with the Rules Committee prior to the consideration of the House.
At one time on Wednesday, it looked like the conferees' committee had agreed on the final version of the legislation that had to clear both the House and the Senate.
One reason doing the rounds is that the legislation has become a victim of lame duck politics in the sense that lawmakers are eager to tag legislations that have nothing to do with India or the terms and outlines of what the conferees have already arrived at.
The first step before being taken up on the House floor was that the Conference Report must be filed with the Rules Committee. That has not happened as of late Wednesday night and for reasons unknown. Senior staffers on the Capitol Hill said they were ignorant about the details of the procedural roadblock.
According to sources, Republican Majority Leader in House of Representatives John Boehner appeared to be interested in attaching legislations not related to the India bill.
However, Kevin Smith, spokesperson of Boehner, said he did not know what was holding up the legislation as lawmakers are still working on it.
Smith said the bill was not formally scheduled for vote on Wednesday but will be put before Congress when Boehner and other leaders have some sort of a resolution.
He said the procedure will be completed this week itself before the Congress adjourns.
The officials of the Rules Committee could only say that the Conference Report has not been formally filed.
According to sources, some lawmakers, highly critical of the nuclear deal, are making a last ditch attempt to delay the legislation by insisting on jurisdictional oversight. This is not an insurmountable problem as the Rules Committee will be the last word on the subject.
But indications from the Hill and senior officials have been that the legislation -- formally called 'The Henry J Hyde United States India Peaceful Atomic Energy Cooperation Act of 2006' -- will clear the Lame Duck session and in the present context could get through the House on Thursday and the Senate shortly thereafter.
The legislation would alter American law to allow India to buy US nuclear fuel and reactors for the first time in 30 years.