Today President Bush touched on the U.S.-India nuclear deal in his announcement of Rumfeld's resignation. And his words might just represent the death of this controversial piece of foreign policy.
But this is no quiet ending. These words suggest a last-ditch attempt by the White House to push the U.S.-India nuclear deal through a lame duck session of the Senate.
Will Lugar, Republican chair of the Foreign Relations Committee, lead this bill to the floor? Will Democrats defeat a bill many individual members support to circumscribe Bush's handling of foreign affairs?
Or will Democrats, if Webb wins his VA seat, pass the U.S.-India nuclear deal as bi-partisan gesture while putting the coals on Bush for Iraq?
If Democrats take the Senate,
Bush's plan seeked pre-approval for Congress on the nuclear deal before the Nuclear Suppliers Group and IAEA approve the deal, where they would likely add stipulations.
And while Bush today put the India deal first in his foreign priorities, his Administration has already pushed for a Vietnam trade bill to be considered first by the lame duck session.
Joe Biden offered a detailed position on the U.S. India deal in April 2006:
Congress should not give up its powers under existing law without knowing what a U.S.-India peaceful nuclear cooperation agreement and India’s safeguards agreements with the IAEA will contain.
Let’s be clear: the India nuclear deal could go forward without changing the law.
A peaceful nuclear cooperation agreement with India would simply require approval by joint resolution – a majority in each house of Congress.
But the Administration seeks a special exemption from the law, to allow the agreement to proceed unless Congress enacts a resolution of disapproval, which would require a two-thirds vote in each house to override a presidential veto.
Why does the President want to change the law? Does he doubt that he could get a
majority to approve the agreement? If so, why?
But the fact remains, the India nuclear deal will most likely pass. The only difference between this vote and the house vote will be characters: with Sen. Boxer and Sen. Feingold playing the role of Markey in the House.