Washington, Nov 4: Influential Republicans lawmakers and well known friends of India may now head the key Congressional committees in the aftermath of the party’s sweeping win in the Congressional elections to take control of the House of Representatives.
Though Indo-US relationship enjoys bi-partisan support, Indians in the US feel that pro New Delhi lawmakers heading key committees could be advantageous to get through any India-specific legislation.
The powerful House Foreign Affairs Committee would now be headed by Republican Ileana Ros-Lehtinen, who played a key role in the passage of the Indo-US civilian nuclear deal. She is unlike the outgoing Democrat Chairman Howard Berman, who had introduced killer amendment to the civilian nuclear deal.
Republican Ros-Lehtinen, has also been highly critical of the Pakistan’s half-hurted approach towards war against terrorism. Similarly, Ed Royce, Co-Chair of the Congressional India Caucus is all set to chair the House of Representatives sub-committee on terrorism, non-proliferation and trade.
Only last week, Royce had written a letter to the US President, Barack Obama, urging him to strengthen defence co-operation with India and speak with the Indian leadership, when he visits there later this week, on purchase of American military hardware.
A key-advocate of Indo-US relationship, Royce had played a prominent role in lifting of sanctions imposed in India after the 1998 nuclear tests. Like Ros-Lehtinen, Royce too has been highly critical of Pakistan, and has been seeking US access to A Q Khan, the notorious Pak nuclear scientists.
In fact, Royce is also a top contender for becoming the Chairman of House Committee on Financial Services. He would replace Barney Frank, who is said to have been unhelpful in India related matters. In Kansas, one of India’s known friend Sam Brownback was elected the governor on Tuesday.
Brownback as Congressmen was instrumental in passage of the "Brownback amendment" that eased sanctions against India after the 1998 nuclear tests. Former Bush trade negotiator Rob Portman won the Senate seat from Ohio. During the Bush Administration he built strong personal ties with Indian leaders.
A large number of lawmakers from the India caucus members have been reelected during the Tuesday’s Congressional elections. Among prominent winners are Gary L Ackerman, Earl Blumenauer, Joseph Crowley, Sheila Jackson Lee, Brad Sherman, Frank Pallone and Fred Upton.
In the outgoing Congress there are 152 Congressmen who are member of the Congressional India Caucus, of which more than 110 have won.