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Sudden spurt in pact co-sponsors

Much of the support for Indo-US nuke deal is coming from the Republican bloc, reports S Rajagopalan.

india Updated: May 29, 2006 00:23 IST

Goaded largely by their Indian American constituents, more and more US lawmakers have lately been signing up as co-sponsors of the legislation to give effect to the Indo-US nuclear deal, now pending in both Houses of Congress.

There are now 31 co-sponsors for the legislation in the House of Representatives and 10 in the Senate. It is in recent weeks that the trend caught on. As many as 23 members on the House side have turned co-sponsors in May.

Much of the support is from the Republican bloc. In the House, 20 co-sponsors are Republicans and 11 are Democrats. In the Senate, all 10 co-sponsors are Republicans.

This state of affairs has led to some sabre-rattling between Indian American activists belonging to rival political formations. An Indian activist in the Republican camp recently took potshots at a counterpart for not being able to get even a single Democratic Senator to co-sponsor as yet.

Indian circles, however, claim that lack of co-sponsorship is not necessarily a measure of the extent of support. They point out that Sen Joe Biden, the ranking Democrat on the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, may not have decided to co-sponsor, but he has clearly indicated his support to the deal at committee hearings, despite reservations on some counts.

Biden and several other Democratic Senators including Hillary Clinton, John Kerry and Charles Schumer were among a large number of lawmakers who recently attended a reception hosted by NRI hotelier Sant Singh Chatwal on Capitol Hill.

The Republican co-sponsors in the Senate are George Allen, Ted Stevens, John Cornyn, Mike Crapo, Kay Bailey Hutchinson, Sam Brownback, Pete V. Domenici, Lamar Alexander, Christopher Bond and Mike DeWine. On the House side, though, several Democrats are among the co-sponsors — including Tom Lantos, Gary Ackerman, Frank Pallone, Joe Crowley and Eni Faleomavaega. Other Democrats to sign up are Eliot L. Engel, Luis V. Gutierrez, Jesse L. Jackson, Gregory W. Meeks, Danny K. Davis and Alcee L. Hastings.

Among the 20 Republican co-sponsors are Dan Burton, Joe Wilson, Bobby Jindal, Henry Bonilla, Charles W. Boustany Jr., John R. Carter, Michael K. Conway and Tom Davis.