Hearings Must be Held, Questions Answered, Before Vote

WASHINGTON, D.C. - A group of senior Democratic lawmakers joined forces today in arguing that many lingering questions about the U.S.-India nuclear deal require further examination and should rule out any rush for an expedited vote on the deal..The lawmakers, led by Representative Edward J. Markey (D-MA), a senior member of the House Energy and Commerce Committee and joined by Representatives Ellen O. Tauscher (D-CA), chair of the House Armed Services Strategic Forces Subcommittee and John Spratt (D-SC), chair of the House Budget Committee, wrote a joint letter to House Foreign Affairs Chairman Howard Berman (D-CA) outlining their concerns.

Rep. Markey said, "The Bush administration is lobbying hard to rush consideration of this unprecedented nuclear deal.  This tactic is unwise and inappropriate, because serious questions remain about whether the deal is consistent with the law of the land - the Atomic Energy Act and the Hyde Act. The nonproliferation issues at stake in this deal are too important to be glossed over in a rush to beat the clock. Congress should spend the time needed to dissect the details of this agreement before taking any votes."


The Hyde Act, the law passed by Congress in December 2006 to set requirements for any nuclear trade agreement between the U.S. and India, specifically requires that Congress have at least 30 days to consider the deal before holding a vote on approval. According to the current schedule, the House only has 10 legislative days left in session.


The full text of the lawmakers' letter is below and in PDF version HERE:

The Honorable Howard L. Berman


House Committee on Foreign Affairs

2170 Rayburn House Office Building

Washington, D.C. 20515



Dear Chairman Berman:


Late Wednesday, President Bush submitted to Congress the proposed Nuclear Cooperation Agreement between the United States and India. 


As you know, many questions remain concerning whether or not the so-called 123 Agreement, the India-IAEA Safeguards Agreement, the Nuclear Suppliers' Group waiver, and the various Presidential certifications and reports, meet the requirements of, and are consistent with, the Atomic Energy Act and the Hyde Act.  The NSG waiver for India that was approved September 6th, 2008, clearly does not incorporate the restrictions and conditions on U.S. nuclear trade mandated by the Hyde Act, such as the requirement that nuclear cooperation be immediately halted if India conducts a nuclear test.  We urge you to take all necessary time to carefully review the president's submission, hold hearings, and seek answers to any outstanding questions.  Furthermore, we urge you to take whatever steps are necessary to bring this proposal into full conformity with the Atomic Energy Act, the Hyde Act of 2006, and international standards and practices, as you described in you August 5th, 2008, letter to Secretary Rice.


President Bush is seeking hurried Congressional approval of this unprecedented proposal in the waning days of the 110th Congress.  As you know, the Atomic Energy Act requires that this proposal sit before Congress for 30 days of continuous session, and that the relevant committees hold hearings, before a vote may be held.  However, as of today there are only 10 days of session remaining before our date of targeted adjournment on September 26, 2008.  Therefore, honoring President Bush's request for Congressional approval of the Nuclear Cooperation Agreement this year could only be accomplished by waiving U.S. law through an unorthodox procedure.


We strongly oppose rushing consideration of the proposal to adhere to an imaginary clock, since the process of full Congressional oversight and deliberation necessarily and properly requires a significant investment of time.  We urge you to insist that this unprecedented agreement be subject to full and complete review by the Congress, even if that necessitates deferring any vote on the Agreement until the next Congress.




Representative Edward J. Markey (D-MA)


Representative Ellen O. Tauscher (D-CA)

Chair, House Armed Services Strategic Forces Subcommittee


Representative John Spratt (D-SC),

Chair, House Budget Committee



September 12, 2008

CONTACT: Jessica Schafer, 202.225.2836