|Washington, D.C. " The US-India Political Action Committee announced today that U.S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice testified before the House and Senate as part of the Bush Administrationâ€™s effort to promote civil nuclear cooperation. Tomorrow, Under Secretary of State Nicholas Burns will join with the U.S. India Business Alliance (USIBA) and the Congressional Taskforce on US-India Trade to move the Administrationâ€™s agenda forward. According to the US-India Political Action Committee, several key Members of Congress who are critical to the passage of civilian nuclear cooperation have indicated support for the agreement.
These Members of Congress include Senator Pete Domenici (R-NM), Joseph Biden (D-DE) and John Kerry (D-MA) as well as Rep. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen (R-FL), Rep. Jim Moran (D-VA), and Rep. Elliot Engel (D-NY). They join Senators George Allen (R-VA), Sam Brownback (R-KS), John Cornyn (R-TX), Michael Crapo (R-ID), Kay Baylee Hutchison (R-TX), and Ted Stevens (R-AL) from the Senate and Tom Lantos, Eni Faleomavaega, Joe Crowley, Joe Wilson, Dan Burton and Gary Ackerman from the House of Representatives in supporting this initiative.
Senator Domenici is viewed as an expert on nuclear energy due to his position as Chairman of the Senate Committee on Energy and Natural Resources, which has jurisdiction over domestic nuclear energy issues. Additionally, the Los Alamos National Laboratory and Sandia National Laboratory, both of which deal significantly with nuclear energy, are in his state of New Mexico.
Senator Joseph Biden is the Ranking Member on the Senate Foreign Relations Committee. USINPAC met Senator Biden on March 21, 2006 in order to engage with him about issues important to the Indian American community. During the Senate Foreign Relations Committee hearing held on April 4th, 2006 about the US-India civil nuclear agreement, Senator Biden said that he is "probably going to support this" and that it is probably time to admit that India will keep its nuclear weapons.â€ Senator Biden also said, "America is going to have to, needs to and should pursue closer relations with India."
Senator Joseph Biden with USINPAC Legislative Director Manish Antani
Senator John Kerry, the 2004 Democratic Nominee for President and possible contender for 2008, said at the hearing that he is inclined to support this agreement and I support it in principle. Regarding the claims by the opponents who criticize the deal's impact on the NPT, Senator Kerry said, I think we have to get over this notion, and if we stay stuck in the same place, we will never advance.
During the hearing in the House International Relations Committee later in the day, Ranking Member Tom Lantos (D-CA) also said, "Some will argue that this agreement would be a death-knell of the NPT. I would point out that the demise of the NPT has been predicted many times, yet it still lives."
Congressman Jim Moran is a senior member of the House Democrats and the Blue Dog Coalition, which consists of 35 moderate Democrats in the House of Representatives. Congressman Moran has informed USINPAC of his strong support for the agreement and that he will urge his colleagues to support this deal. Congresswoman Ileana Ros-Lehtinen is the Republican Co-Chair of the House India Caucus and has indicated that she will support the agreement, but will seek some clarification from the administration. Congressman Elliot Engel said at todayâ€™s hearing that he supports the agreement and is going to cosponsor the House legislation.
Congressman Faleomavaega, Ranking Member of the influential House International Relations Subcommittee on Asia and the Pacific and co-chair of the Congressional Taskforce on US-India Trade met with Indiaâ€™s Foreign Secretary last week and pledged his support. At todayâ€™s hearing, Congressman Faleomavaega also applauded Secretary Riceâ€™s leadership and noted that, as part of the Administrationâ€™s recent efforts on Capitol Hill to promote civil nuclear cooperation, the Congressional Taskforce on U.S. India Trade was pleased to be hosting an event in cooperation with Under Secretary Nicholas Burns and the U.S. India Business Alliance (USIBA) to move this agenda forward.
Under Secretary of State Nicholas Burns will keynote this historic event which is the first of its kind on Capitol Hill. The event will be held in the U.S. Capitol tomorrow. Sanjay Puri, Chairman of USINPAC and CEO of USIBA, will also be a keynote speaker and the event will be attended by more than 20 Members of the U.S. House of Representative and several senior-ranking U.S. Senators including Senator George Allen and Senator Sam Brownback, both of whom are rumored to be Presidential candidates. Senator Christopher Bond, who just returned from a trip to India, will also attend the event which is expected to receive intense media coverage.
Speaking about the issue, Sanjay Puri said, â€œThese Members of Congress are critical to this deal and I'm excited to see that they have indicated that they will support civil nuclear cooperation. USINPAC will continue to represent the communityâ€™s strong support for this agreement and lobby Congress to pass it into law. USIBA will also keep this issue at the forefront by continuing to host events with the Bush Administration and key Members of the House and Senate.â€
USINPAC has unveiled a new section on their website, www.usinpac.com, detailing the progress on obtaining Congressional support and outlining how the community can get involved.