Pledging to ensure the passage of an enabling legislation on Indo-US civilian nuclear deal, the Democrat leader in the Senate on Friday said he would work with Republicans to put the bill in "automatic pilot" so that it would be taken up as "the first order of business" when Congress returns after the November 7 elections.
Responding to comments made by Majority leader Bill Frist at the closing of Senate session yesterday, Minority leader Harry Reid also said it was important that the two work on a "package" on the bill before going on recess as it "means a lot" to the "vital" ties between India and the US.
"I would hope we could take a limited number of amendments, very short-time agreements on these and have it set up so that, when we get back when the elections are over, this (bill) be the first order of business we move to. We could set it up so we could finish it in a very long day but we can do it in one day," he said.
"I believe we should do this. It is an important legislation, the passage means a lot to the vitally important United States-India relationship. So I pledge what I can to ensure to do just that," the Nevada Democrat added.
"I hope that before we leave here, today or tomorrow or Sunday or whenever it might be, that we will have it on so-called automatic pilot so that we take this up when we get back. I would hope that would be the case," he said.
"This is an important legislation. I have said on a number of occasions that I strongly support this and it is important we find time to do this before this Congress comes to an end," he added.
Senate Majority Leader Frist said he and Senator Reid have been working on a package that will be acceptable to both sides.
"This is something we are working on. I believe we do need, before we leave here, to put together a package as Democratic leader and I have been working on," Frist said adding the two sides need to work on this today.
Reid, however, blamed Republicans for the delay in bringing the bill to the Senate floor for debate and vote.
"The reason why this matter has not been to the floor much earlier is that there was a provision put in to this legislation by Senator (Richard) Lugar. I agreed with it, I support the legislation but on the Majority side, people had held up the legislation because of that," he said referring to 'Title Two' of the United States-India Peace Atomic Energy Cooperation Act, S 3709.
The Title Two, which was tagged on, had nothing to do with the nuclear deal but pertained to an Additional Protocol between the US and the International Atomic Energy Agency, which was objected to by a handful of Republican lawmakers.