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Nuke deal: Vote unlikely this weekend

Bill may come up after Congressional polls in Nov, reports S Rajagopalan.

india Updated: Sep 27, 2006 03:30 IST
S Rajagopalan
S Rajagopalan

There are fresh doubts over whether the US Senate will be able to go through with the much-awaited debate and vote on the nuclear deal legislation before it adjourns this weekend for the upcoming Congressional elections.

A renewed effort by Senate majority leader Bill Frist on Monday night failed to get past the Democrats, but further behind-the-scene efforts are said to still be on.

In a statement on Tuesday morning, Frist indicated that the Democrats had blocked a unanimous consent proposal for consideration of this legislation and said he had appealed to them to review their position.

"Last night, I offered a unanimous consent agreement to ensure that the Senate could complete consideration of the Indo-US Civil Nuclear Cooperation legislation in a reasonable period of time. However, my colleagues on the other side of the aisle objected," Frist said.

"The enactment of this legislation is critical to advancing Indo-US relations and will help create export opportunities for American businesses. We need time to work out the differences with the companion legislation passed by the House. Therefore, the Senate cannot afford to wait until November to pass this critical piece of legislation," he added.

Without a unanimous consent agreement, it will not be possible for Frist to schedule the bill for debate and vote this week.

Originally, October 6 was the target date for adjournment. But in the revised scheme of things, the Senate will be going into recess from September 29 itself.

According to a report, the point being made in political circles in the US is that the civilian nuclear legislation technically still has a chance to be acted upon during the lame duck session in the middle of November, but this again depends on how the congressional elections of November 7 turn out.

The argument goes that if the Democrats win either the House of Representatives or the Senate or even make substantial inroads into one of the two chambers, they could play "hardball" and insist that all unfinished legislative business be taken up in the 110th Congress, which will not convene until the beginning of 2007.

First Published: Sep 27, 2006 03:05 IST