United States Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice met the powerful Speaker of the House of Representatives Nancy Pelosi on Tuesday, and they reportedly discussed the India-US civilian nuclear agreement.
However, the spokesperson for Pelosi maintained that the discussion revolved around the process for considering the accord once it has been submitted, according to a media report quoting Pelosi's spokesman Nadeam Elshami.
"The Speaker looks forward to reviewing the submission in detail and consulting with Chairman Berman and members of the leadership in determining the appropriate course of action," Elshami said.
The importance and urgency of the nuclear deal from the perspective of the administration and Congress is reflected in the fact that Speaker Pelosi broke away from a press conference on energy with top leaders of her party, saying that she had a meeting with the Secretary of State about India.
"... I have to excuse myself as I have to meet the secretary of state -- I think the subject is India. I'm not sure and I have to excuse myself -- but I'm sure my colleagues here will be pleased to answer any questions" Pelosi said before leaving the briefing, according to a transcript.
Earlier in the day, Rice had a meeting with powerful Chairman of the House Foreign Affairs Committee Howard Berman, which was passed off as a private meeting by top Congressional aides.
But it was generally believed that Rice discussed the modalities of winning Congressional approval for the civilian nuclear deal in the 110th Congress, technically due to end on September 26, 2008.
Law makers have been talking of a Lame Duck session after the November 4 elections, but nothing has been firmed up on the matter partly because many powerful Democrats are against the idea and would like to start with legislation afresh in the 111th Congress.
The State Department Spokesman Sean McCormack maintained that the administration is going to make a 'full court press' -- a basketball phrase that has to do with attacking the ball before it gets into court -- efforts with Congress and that the Secretary of State had spoken with a number of law makers including Chairman Berman and Democratic Vice Presidential nominee Senator Joseph Biden.
"We think there is a possibility of getting this passed this year and we are going to do everything we possibly can," said McCormack.
"Whether it does or not, it's not going to be because of lack of efforts" he said, stressing that Rice had instructed aides to have the paperwork ready for the Hyde Package in 24 hours to 48 hours.