With the US Senate getting into a month-long session on Tuesday, the Bush administration is keen that the Indo-US civilian nuclear act is passed without any changes keeping in mind India's apprehensions and objections to certain provisions.
"The administration is keen on the Senate voting on the S 3709 (United States India Peaceful Atomic Energy Cooperation Act) as it stands today. The administration is quite aware of India's apprehensions, concerns and objections in the Senate Bill especially as it pertains to Sections 106 (Prohibition on certain exports and re-exports) and 107 (End Use Monitoring programme)," the sources said.
They said that apparently the thinking was not to start an argument with Senators now when the Senate gets into session on Tuesday after its summer break, but use the conference stage to apply pressure to drop the provisions.
Indications were this Bill would come up in the full chamber sometime towards the third week of September. But no one either on Capitol Hill or elsewhere put a firm timeline.
It has been pointed out that the White House and the administration are keen to have the Senate pass the measure; and prior to the Senate going on recess last month the administration was said to have leaned on majority leader Bill Frist to schedule the vote. That could not be done for time constraints as there were other pressing issues and votes.
All unfinished legislative business will have to be re-introduced in the new 110th Congress when it reconvenes in January in 2007; and if by any chance the character of the Congress changes in the November 7 elections, it would be a totally different ball game after that, sources said.
The substantive part of the Bill and the expected objections from Senators aside, there is a larger procedural impediment that is yet to be sorted out -- taking out the Title Two of S 3709 that has no relevance to India but a Protocol having to do with the US and the International Atomic Energy Agency.
Several Conservative Republicans are reportedly against the Additional Protocol and want it to be debated and voted upon separately.
Law makers like Senators Jon Kyl of Arizona and John Ensign of Nevada are not quite satisfied with the kind of obligations Washington is signing on to by way of an Additional Protocol with the IAEA, especially as it pertains to inspections and payments and even perhaps a perceived interference in the fashion Americans would want to run their programmes.