Bush, India hope for hurdle-free run
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Confident of winning a crucial vote tomorrow in the House International Relations Committee, the Bush administration is now seeking widest possible support for "marking up" the bill on nuclear cooperation with India.
A smooth approval of the nuclear bill in the committee tomorrow, the administration hopes, would set the tone for quick Congressional action to complete the legislative process before the long summer break at the end of July.
The Bush administration, which has played its cards well so far, has enough votes to "mark-up" or move the bill from the committee to the floor of the House of Representatives.
The administration, however, wants to make sure that there are no damaging amendments to the core of the legislation. It would also like to see a strong bipartisan support to the bill in the committee.
Of the 50 members of the committee, 27 are Republican and 23 Democratic. Close to 30 members, mostly Republican, are believed to be in support of the legislation. The White House and India are now focused on garnering additional support, especially from Democrats.
A non-controversial debate should generate confidence among White House political managers and Congressional party bosses to press for an early vote on the legislation in both the House and the Senate.
With mid-term elections scheduled for November, the Bush administration and India are deeply aware of the urgency of getting done with most of the legislative process in the next four weeks.
A divisive and acrimonious debate tomorrow could set back the administration's effort to bring the Congressional debate on nuclear cooperation with India to an early closure.
The two objectives that the administration has set for itself— of leaving the essence of the bill untouched by amendments and winning bipartisan support— are mutually competitive.
Firmness on the core of the bill— of revising the nuclear law in favour of India without any caveats— would necessarily demand rejection of amendments and offending their sponsors.
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