M A I N   N E W S

Democrats get Senate too
Battle for Virginia went down to the wire
AshishKumar Sen writes from Washington

The battle for Virginia was down to the wire on Thursday morning with less than a percentage point separating the Democratic and Republican candidates. One wire service called the state for James H. Webb, giving Democrats control of the Senate and completing their sweep on Capitol Hill.

The Republican candidate, George Allen, can still request a recount and draw out the election. However, according to some reports the incumbent senator may not do this. With Virginia the Democrats will have 51 Senate seats and the Republicans 49. The Democrats won control of the House of Representatives, the other chamber in the U.S. Congress, on Tuesday night.

In a White House press conference on Wednesday, Mr. Bush described the Republican Party’s defeat as a “thumping.” This is the first time since the “Republican Revolution” of 1994 that the party has lost control of Congress. Mr. Bush tried to put a brave face on the defeat but this will also be the first time in his presidency that he will have to face a less pliable, Democrat-controlled Congress that analysts say will not toe his line. “I thought we were going to do fine yesterday,” the president said. “Shows what I know.”

Robert Hathaway, director of the Asia programme at the Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars, predicted a “more assertive Congress than you have seen for the past six years - a Congress willing and indeed eager to stand up for its prerogatives. A Congress that undertakes oversight that has really not been carried out in the past six years.”

Pointing out that the present Congress has done remarkably little on oversight, Mr. Hathaway told this correspondent he expected the Democrat-controlled Congress to take a serious look at the war in Iraq, why the U.S. was so woefully unprepared to deal with a post-Saddam Iraq.



N-deal Bill next week, says Mulford
Tribune News Service

New Delhi, November 9
Even though the Indo-US nuclear deal for civilian purposes might get delayed because of uncertainty following the success of the Democrats in the Congressional elections, American ambassador David C Mulford remained optimistic that the Bill would go through the Senate next week.

Mr Mulford's optimism stemmed from the strong bipartisan support reflected by the statement of leaders, including Democrats, since yesterday.

Despite the setback, U S President George Bush has said that getting the Indo-US civilian nuclear deal through is one of his priorities.

Mr Mulford said the Senate was likely to meet for the lame duck session either on November 15 or 16 to take up the Bill on the agreement to permit nuclear trade between the US and India.

The House of Representatives has already passed the Bill but the Senate could not consider it as its term expired.

The American Ambassador observed it was hard to predict the duration of the lame duck session and how business would be conducted.

“There is a great deal of uncertainty. The Senate is an independent body. Let us wee what happens,” Mr Mulford said.

Since the Republicans still have majority in the Senate, they will have the initiative to call the lame duck session and manage it. The Senate will, however, have the choice with regard to consideration of the Bills. The Senate has to consider a bill on Vietnam and the one on the Indo-US nuclear deal.

“Clearly, there is an intention to address the issue and there is strong bipartisan support to the government and the overall relations between the US and India,” Mr Mulford said.

If the Bill is not considered by the present Senate then the whole legislative process will have to be restarted when the new Congress convenes in January.



US visa cheaper

New Delhi, November 9
The US visa fee has got cheaper by about 30 per cent and a visa can now be obtained in a week's time, US Ambassador to India David C. Mulford said here on Thursday. "The US Government has eliminated the $ 50 reciprocal issuance fee for all non-immigrant visas for Indian citizens, effective immediately," Mr Mulford disclosed. The net result will be 33 per cent reduction in the cost of getting a visa. — TNS



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