Bipartisan consensus in invite to PM Modi to address US Congress

By, New Delhi
Jun 03, 2023 07:24 PM IST

After the bitter showdown over debt ceiling legislation was brought to close, arch-rivals joined hands to invite PM Modi to address the Congress joint meet.

Faced with the prospect of calamitous government default, US President Joe Biden had to call off his visit to Papua New Guinea and Australia last month and returned back from G-7 meeting in Tokyo to forge a bipartisan consensus on debt ceiling legislation. The bill suspending the debt limit and imposing new spending caps was passed by the Senate on June 1 and brought closure to the political showdown between the Republicans and the Democrats since the former won the House last November.

File Photo of PM Narendra Modi addressing the joint meeting of US Congress in 2016
File Photo of PM Narendra Modi addressing the joint meeting of US Congress in 2016

While the Democrats and Republicans sledged it out over the debt ceiling for the past months, the two political rivals got together on the same day to send a bipartisan invite to Prime Minister Narendra Modi to address the joint meeting of Congress on June 22. Sending the invite, House Speaker Kevin McCarthy wrote that the bipartisan leadership was looking forward to “paving the way for greater collaboration between the two countries for years to come.”

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Prime Minister Narendra Modi is going on a state visit to the US on June 20 and will address the joint meeting of Congress on June 22 after attending the function to celebrate Yoga Day 2023 at the UN the day before. He will be hosted by President Joe Biden for a state dinner on the same day he addresses the Congress with a ceremonial reception at the White House earlier that day. PM Modi is expected to take a flight back to India on June 23 and has no plans till now to address any diaspora meeting this time.

While Modi’s political adversaries may play down the importance of the forthcoming state visit, he will be the first Indian PM to address the Congress twice within a span of seven years. Other Indian Prime Ministers who have bestowed this honour were: Prime Minister J.L. Nehru, P.V. Narasimha Rao. Atal Bihari Vajpayee and Manmohan Singh. Very few global leaders have addressed the US Congress twice.

The importance of the bipartisan invite is that it sends a message that whosoever is in power at the White House, close ties with India are a priority for both the Democrats and the Republicans. PM Modi has already worked with three Presidents including President Barack Obama and President Donald Trump apart from sharing a close relationship with President Biden as was evident during the G-7 summit.

It is understood that the forthcoming visit to the US is expected to be a game changer in the bilateral relations between the two natural allies and will forge a new path to deepen cooperation across the board. Not only will the two countries cement political relations but also join hands to build resilient global supply chains that are not independent of mutual adversaries. The two countries will not only join hands towards hardware production and critical technologies but also pitch together for a stable and coercion-free Indo-Pacific.

While the Biden administration is still to approve the proposal of General Electric to manufacture F-414 engines in India for Tejas Mark II through 100 per cent transfer of technology route, the matter is under serious consideration and will see closure during PM Modi’s visit to the US this month.

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    Author of Indian Mujahideen: The Enemy Within (2011, Hachette) and Himalayan Face-off: Chinese Assertion and Indian Riposte (2014, Hachette). Awarded K Subrahmanyam Prize for Strategic Studies in 2015 by Manohar Parrikar Institute for Defence Studies and Analyses (MP-IDSA) and the 2011 Ben Gurion Prize by Israel.

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