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'Democrats trying to sabotage N-deal'

September 29, 2006 10:00 IST

The Indian American Republican Council has accused Senate Minority Leader Harry Reid of maneuvering to prevent the enabling legislation to facilitate the US-India civilian nuclear deal from coming to the floor of the Senate for debate and a vote even as he argues that he is fully committed to the bill and is a co-sponsor of it.

In a statement put out Thursday night, titled, Harry Reid: Stop Playing Games with the US-India Nuclear Deal, the IARC said that Reid's statement earlier this week that he had offered a unanimous consent agreement to ensure that the Senate could complete consideration of the Indo-US nuclear cooperation legislation before Congress leaves town this week for the November elections and blaming the Republicans for spiking it was not only a ploy but patently false.

"A careful review of the Congressional Record shows that it was (Senate Majority) Leader Frist (Tennessee Republican) who first asked for unanimous consent to bring the legislation up, and it was Reid who objected to his request," the IARC said.

It asked, 'Why would Reid put out a press release implying that he was the one trying to bring up this bill, when the record clearly shows this is not true? Why did he say on the Senate floor that he co-sponsored the bill, when he did not?'

'The answer is simple:

This is a desperate attempt to rehabilitate the severely damaged image of the Democratic Party with the Indian American community. Reid had to have known all the co-sponsors of the original bill, S 2429, were Republicans. He had to know Democrats on the Senate Foreign Relations Committee led by John Kerry, Russ Feingold and Barbara Boxer, did everything they could to kill this legislation during its markup,' the statement said.

'He had to know Republican John Cornyn (of Texas) was publicly speaking out on the importance of this legislation, while India Caucus co-chair Hillary Clinton was silent,' it said, adding: 'He had to know a majority of House Democrats voted for every procedural vote to kill HR 5682 on the House floor.'

The IARC said, 'Unbelievably, Reid says in his press release, "I would encourage people following this debate to review the complete transcript of our discussion last evening." Perhaps Reid and his staff were reading a Hindi version of the transcript as there is no other way to explain how he can claim he supports this bill, when the Democrats have tried to kill it at every turn.'

It claimed that 'for the past year, the Indian American community has read extensive media reports of the Democrats' repeated attempts to kill this legislation, and this desperate attempt to claim otherwise will surely fail.'

Aziz Haniffa in Washington, DC