The process for Congressional approval of the Indo-US nuclear deal got underway with the introduction of the enabling legislation in the Senate.
The Senate Foreign Relations Committee's Republican Chairman Richard Lugar had reported the Bill on Friday to the Upper House that would permit resumption of exports of nuclear materials, equipment, and technology to India after 30 years.
Lugar's counterpart on the House International Committee, Henry Hyde, is expected to introduce its own version of the enabling legislation before the full House early next week.
The House panel had approved a slightly different version of the Bill by an equally huge 37-5 margin.
Once approved by the two Houses, the legislation will have to go to a Conference Committee to work out a common language as a Bill cannot become a law until it has been approved in identical form by both the Senate and the House of Representatives.
Reflecting a common intent, both suggest a two-step vote for the final Congressional approval of the nuclear deal that both agree would become a cornerstone for US-India relations.
The first vote would allow the Bush administration to negotiate a formal agreement for peaceful nuclear cooperation with India under conditions outlined in Section 123 of the US Atomic Energy Act of 1954. In the second vote, the Congress would approve the so-called '123 Agreement' itself.