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House of Representatives passes nuclear bill 359-68

By Aziz Haniffa in Washington, DC
Last updated on: July 27, 2006 19:11 IST
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At 9.17 PM Eastern, the United States House of Representatives passed by an overwhelming majority House Resolution 5682, also known as the 'United States and India Nuclear Cooperation Promotion Act of 2006.'

The bill, authored by Congressmen Henry Hyde (Republican, Illinois) and Tom Lantos (Democrat, California), chairman and ranking Democrat respectively of the House International Relations Committee, passed with 359 voting in favor to 68 against.

While the voting was largely on bipartisan lines, accounting for the thumping majority, a clear pattern that emerged through the evening of debates on various amendments and on the bill itself was for Republicans to favour the bill in far greater numbers than the Democrats.

Reflecting that bias, 219 Republicans voted in favor of the bill and just nine against; on the other side of the aisle, a thumping 140 Democrats voted in favour of the bill and 58 against (an Independent Congressman voted against).

In sum, the bill has now cleared the US House of Representatives by a substantial margin, and will now await the vote in the US Senate.

The Senate has not as on date scheduled a vote on corresponding legislation marked up by the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, and aides to key Senators indicated to that such a vote is not likely before Congress shuts down for summer recess on August 4.

If and when the 100-member Senate takes up the bill for voting and approves it, senior members of both Houses of the US Congress will then meet in committee to reconcile differing language and provisions in the two bills.

They will then present one consolidated bill to the President for his signature -- when that is done, the US will have officially consented to amending its laws to permit civilian nuclear cooperation between the US and India.

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Aziz Haniffa in Washington, DC