House passes important amendment affecting U.S.-India defense partnership

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Prime Minister Narendra Modi with President Joe Biden at the Indo pacific meetings in Japan May 23, 2022. Pboto: Twitter @narendramodi

The House of Representatives passed a significant amendment July 14, 2022, to the National Defense Reauthorization Act (NDAA), that holds the potential to further strengthen the U.S.-India defense partnership.

The amendment was authored by Congressman Ro Khanna, D-California, vice chair of the Congressional Caucus on India and Indian Americans, and a member of the House Armed Services Committee. It was passed by voice vote as part of an en bloc amendment during floor consideration of the National Defense Reauthorization Act (NDAA).

The Khanna amendment “will affirm the United States’ partnership with India and urge the Biden administration to use their authority to provide India with a CAATSA waiver to help deter aggressors like China,” a press release from Rep. Khanna’s office said. CAATSA stands for ‘Countering America’s Adversaries Through Sanctions Act’

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“The United States must stand with India in the face of escalating aggression from China. As Vice Chair of the India Caucus, I have been working to strengthen the partnership between our countries and ensure that India can defend itself along the Indian Chinese border,” Rep. Khanna is quoted saying in the press release. “This amendment is of the utmost importance, and I am proud to see it pass the House on a bipartisan basis,” he added.

Full text of the amendment is below and here.

SEC. 1336. UNITED STATES-INDIA DEFENSE PARTNERSHIP.

  1.     STRONG UNITED STATES-INDIA DEFENSE PARTNERSHIP.—It is the sense of Congress that—
  2.     a strong United States-India defense partnership, rooted in shared democratic values, is critical in order to advance United States interests in the Indo-Pacific region; and
  3.     this partnership between the world’s oldest and largest democracies is critical and must continue to be strengthened in response to increasing threats in the Indo-Pacific regions, sending an unequivocal signal that sovereignty and international law must be respected.
  4.     UNITED STATES-INDIA INITIATIVE ON CRITICAL AND EMERGING TECHNOLOGIES (ICET).—The Congress finds that the United States-India Initiative on Critical and Emerging Technologies (iCET) is a welcome and essential step to developing closer partnerships between governments, academia, and industry in the United States and India to address the latest advances in artificial intelligence, quantum computing, biotechnology, aerospace, and semiconductor manufacturing. Such collaborations between engineers and computer scientists are vital to help ensure that the United States and India, as well as other democracies around the world, foster innovation and facilitate technological advances which continue to far outpace Russian and Chinese technology.
  5.     BORDER THREATS FROM CHINA AND RELIANCE ON RUSSIAN-BUILT WEAPONS.—Congress recognizes that—
  6.     India faces immediate and serious regional border threats from China, with continued military aggression by the Government of China along the India-China border,
  7.     India relies on Russian-built weapons for its national defense, and
  8.     the United States should take additional steps to encourage India to accelerate India’s transition off Russian-built weapons and defense systems while strongly supporting India’s immediate defense needs.
  9.     WAIVER OF CAATSA SANCTIONS IN BEST INTERESTS OF UNITED STATES AND THE UNITED STATES-INDIA DEFENSE PARTNERSHIP.—While India faces immediate needs to maintain its heavily Russian-built weapons systems, a waiver to sanctions under the Countering America’s Adversaries Through Sanctions Act during this transition period is in the best interests of the United States and the United States-India defense partnership to deter aggressors in light of Russia and China’s close partnership.
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