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N-deal: 'Some compromises will be necessary'
Aziz Haniffa in Washington, DC | May 09, 2006 10:52 IST
New York Democrat and co-chair of the Congressional Caucus on India and Indian Americans, Congressman Gary Ackerman, has in a fiery tour-de-force exhortation warned that pushing the Indo-US civilian nuclear agreement though Congress was not going to be easy sledding.
Coverage: Indo-US Nuclear Tango
Speaking at a Congressional reception on Capitol Hill organized by a coalition of Indian American community organizations as part of a two-day blitz to garner support among lawmakers to push through the legislation that could lead to the implementation of the deal, Ackerman said, "It is something that is going to take a lot of hard work. It is an issue that is tremendously misunderstood by so many people and an issue of such importance that it cannot be allowed to fail."
"First, in order to succeed, we need the full support of the President and the White House," he said, adding, "Nothing happens around here unless everybody's shoulder is really put to the grindstone."
Ackerman, a senior member of the House International Relations Committee, noted that there was no doubt in his mind that this legislation would go through some modification. However, he felt that it could not be modified in such a way as to make it completely unpalatable for the Indian side either. Some compromises will be necessary, he said.
"But right now, there is no scheduled vote on any piece of legislation before any committee of either house of Congress with the sands of time rapidly running through that little hour-glass as an important election is coming up and people's minds and interests are on politics," he lamented.
"Just gathering in this wonderful room and talking to each other is not going to cut it and what is really going to get this deal through is to knock on all doors of every member of the Senate and House of both parties -- to get a commitment to put this thing on the calendar, to get commitments from people to put their names on the legislation. Let no door go un-knocked upon," Ackerman told the Indian American community activists.
"Get the thing going with enough weight and members endorsing supporting what is there without giving one excuse or another, and then we will tinker at the margins as necessary to get it through in our committee process," he said.
Congressman Frank Pallone, New Jersey Democrat and the founder and former co-chair of the India Caucus, said: "It is important to inform the lawmakers as to why the community was visiting with them, and bemoaned that a lot of members were not aware of the (to solicit support for the nuclear deal) purpose of the gathering."
"In future," he advised, "it is very crucial to make that point -- that you want to come down here to talk about this agreement and getting it posted in Committee and getting it brought to the floor of the House."
"It is just as important to talk about it back at home, as it is to come down to Washington. Members like to hear from their own constituents. They do not necessarily like to hear from people from a different state," Pallone added.