Washington: Congressman Ed Markey, a known opponent of the Indo-US nuclear deal, has said the passage of a bill on the subject by a 298-117 vote in the House of Representatives was nothing to cheer about as Republicans hailed the move as a step forward in strengthening bilateral ties.
"More than twice as many members voted against the deal today as (those) voted against the Hyde Act that set the conditions for the deal two years ago" Markey said in a statement last night.
The Democrat from Massachussetts had insisted on a recorded roll call vote on the bill during the debate in the House on Friday.
Critics like Markey have pointed out that the Hyde Act in the House of Representatives was passed by a 359-68 vote on July 26, 2006 while the House vote on the Conference Report was cleared on December 8, 2006 by a 330 to 59 margin. And now under the suspension of rules requiring a two thirds vote, the bill to approve the US-India agreement was passed only by a handful of votes.
While critics were quick to jump on to the fact that the bill in the House was barely passed by the required number of votes, South Carolina Republican Joe Wilson, one of the strongest supporters of the legislation and the agreement, hailed the vote.
Wilson said the House adoption of the bill on the nuclear deal moved the US one step forward in strengthening the partnership with people of India.
Republican leaders of the Indian American community did not fail to mention that while lawmakers in the Grand Old Party stuck to the party position, Democrats abandoned the legislation and in unexpected numbers.
"It was a close call," remarked Ashok Mago, the Chairman of the USINDIA FORUM. "A very strong Republican support gave us the victory since the Bill was considered under the suspension of rules requiring a two-thirds majority.
Republicans gave us the majority of the votes."
Mago expressed confidence that the Senate will give approval to the measure next week.
"Indian American community leaders with strong ties with the Democratic Party need to remind their friends the importance of relations between our two nations and seek their support for issues vital to both the United States and India,"
Mago, a Republican Community leader who has been in the forefront of the backing for the US-India nuclear deal, said.
The US-India Business Council applauded the vote in the House with its President Ron Somers calling it "yet another milestone" in the bilateral strategic partnership.
"But Senate passage is required before US companies can participate in civil nuclear trade with India. Given the strong bipartisan Congressional support for this initiative and the endorsement of both Presidential candidates (Democrat Barack Obama and Republican John McCain), there is no reason for further delay on a Senate vote," Somers said in a statement.