With the Bush administration pushing hard for a quick Congressional nod for the landmark India-United States civil nuclear agreement, a small group of senior Democratic lawmakers have demanded the detailed examination of the pact.
The three-person group led by Massachussetts Congressman Edward Markey has said that there are many lingering questions about the deal that require further examination and hence the Congress should rule out any rush for an expedited vote for its ratification.
The group's demand has come in the wake of the reports that the 30-day rule for the legislation to be considered will be waived to meet the September 26 deadline when the present session on the Congress is ending.
Markey, a senior member of the House Energy and Commerce Committee, has been joined in the call by California Democrat Ellen O Tauscher, the Chair of the House Armed Services Strategic Forces Subcommittee and John Spratt, the chair of the House Budget Committee.
In a letter to the Chairman of the House Foreign Affairs Committee Howard Berman, the group has opposed any hurried action while accepting the agreement.
"As many questions whether or not the 123 Agreement, the India-International Atomic Energy Agency Safeguards Agreement, the NSG waiver, and the Presidential certifications, meet the requirements of the Atomic Energy Act and the Hyde Act, are still remaining, we urge you to take all necessary time to carefully review the president's submission," the group said in the letter.
"The NSG waiver for India that was approved on September 6 clearly does not incorporate the restrictions and conditions on US nuclear trade mandated by the Hyde Act, such as the requirement that nuclear cooperation be immediately halted if India conducts a nuclear test," they added.
Opposing the "rushing consideration of the proposal to adhere to an imaginary clock," the group has demanded a full and complete review of the pact by the Congress, "even if that necessitates deferring any vote on the Agreement until the next Congress."
"President Bush is seeking hurried approval of this unprecedented proposal in the waning days of the 110th Congress, despite the legal requirements of 30 days deliberation in a continuous session, and hearings by relevant committees, to pass any such agreement," they said.
Markey, a major dissenter of the deal right from the beginning, said, "The nonproliferation issues at stake in this deal are too important to be glossed over in a rush to beat the clock."