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US Congress approves legislation on nuclear deal

By Sridhar Krishnaswami in Washington, DC
December 09, 2006 14:09 IST
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The United States Congress no Saturday approved a landmark legislation allowing civilian nuclear trade with India for the first time in 30 years.

After the House of Representatives overwhelmingly voted in favour of the bill, the Senate approved a 'unanimous consent agreement' to endorse it paving the way for President George W Bush to sign it into a law, probably on Monday.

The House of Representatives voted in favour of the bill by a margin of 330-59 votes after an hour-long debate with Chairman of the House International Relations Committee Henry Hyde and Ranking Member Tom Lantos backing it, while Massachusetts Democrat Edward Markey, vehemently spoke against it.

Forty-four -- 31 Republicans and 13 Democrats-- did not vote. During an all-night sitting on the last day of the Lame Duck session of the Congress, the senate approved the bill later.

Introducing the reconciled version of the bill, Henry J Hyde argued that the Conference Report is a "judicious balance of competing priorities" and that the Conference had gone to "great lengths" to accommodate the concerns of the administration.

The end product provides the President the authority he requires, protects Congressional prerogatives and strengthens the global non-proliferation regime, the Illinois Republican stressed.

An agreement to have the civilian nuclear deal was reached between Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and President Bush in Washington in July 2005. The deal was finalised when Bush visited India in March this year.

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Sridhar Krishnaswami in Washington, DC
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