The Senate has failed to recognise India as a “global strategic and defence partner” of the US after a key amendment necessary to modify its export control regulations could not be passed.
A day after Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s recent address to a joint session of Congress, top Republican senator John McCain had moved an amendment to the National Defence Authorisation Act (NDAA-17) which if passed would have recognised India as a global strategic and defence partner.
The US had recognised India as a “major defence partner” in a joint statement issued after Modi held talks with President Barack Obama which supported defence-related trade and technology transfer to the country which would now be treated on par with America’s closest allies.
NDAA was passed by the Senate with an overwhelming bipartisan vote of 85-13. But some of the key amendments including the (SA 4618) even though they had bipartisan support could not be passed by the Senate.
“The (Senate) amendment (No 4618) was not adopted to the NDAA,” a Congressional aide told PTI.
Without specifically mentioning this particular legislative move on India, McCain expressed disappointment that many key amendments could not see the light of day.
“I regret that the Senate was unable to debate and vote on several matters critical to our national security, many of which enjoyed broad bipartisan support,” McCain said in a statement.
“In particular, I am deeply disappointed the Senate was not able to increase the number of special immigrant visas for Afghans who risked their lives to help America in a time of war, and whose lives are still at risk today,” he said.
“Too often throughout this process, a single senator was able to bring the Senate’s work on our national defence to a halt. This was a breakdown in the decorum of the Senate, and one that will have serious consequences,” McCain said.
The McCain amendment said that the relationship between the United States and India has developed over the past two decades to become a multifaceted, global strategic and defence partnership rooted in shared democratic values and the promotion of mutual prosperity, greater economic cooperation, regional peace, security, and stability.
As such it asked the president to such actions as may be necessary “to recognise the status of India as a global strategic and defence partner” of the US through appropriate modifications to defence export control regulations.
It also asked the president to approve and facilitate the transfer of advanced technology in the context of, and in order to satisfy, combined military planning with the Indian military for missions such as humanitarian assistance and disaster relief, counter piracy, and maritime domain awareness.