In a major positive development for the Indo-US nuclear agreement, the US Senate Foreign Relations Committee today overwhelmingly approved the deal, paving the way for its entry into the full Senate.
The lawmakers in the crucial Senate panel adopted the agreement by a vote of 19-2.
Senator Russell Feingold, Wisconsin Democrat and Barbara Boxer, California Democrat, voted against the deal.
The Senate panel rejected by a 15-4 vote an amendment sought by Senator Feingold, asking the administration to enter into agreement with the Nuclear Suppliers Group that there will be no transfers of enrichment and reprocessing technology to any country that is not a party to nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty.
The deal now goes to the full Senate.
The Indo-US agreement was mentioned as the ninth item on the legislative agenda for the panel.
After the Senate nod, the approval of the House of Representatives needs to be secured before the two countries can sign the agreement.
There is still no formal word from the House Foreign Affairs Committee chaired by California Democrat Howard Berman, a known sceptic of the deal, on how the agreement is going to move there.
Top Congressional aides in the House have long maintained that the legislation to waive the 30-day rule would have to be addressed.
Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, who arrived in New York on Tuesday, had earlier said there is still uncertainty over the deal being approved by US Congress before his meeting with US President George W Bush on Thursday.
Everything depends on US Congress to give quick approval to the deal, Dr Singh said, adding that he was hopeful of it.