Biden has political mileage to expedite CAATSA sanctions waiver: Ro Khanna

Washington, DC: The recent India-specific CAATSA sanctions waiver by the US House of Representatives is the most consequential vote since the civilian nuclear deal, an influential Indian-American Democratic Congressman has said, asserting that US President Joe Biden will expedite the waiver because he has the political mileage and the backing of 300 members of the Congress.

In July, the US House of Representatives passed a legislative amendment that approves an India-specific waiver for punitive CAATSA sanctions for its purchase of the S-400 missile defense system from Russia.

Authored and introduced by Indian-American Congressman Ro Khanna, the amendment urges the Biden administration to use the authority to provide India with a Countering America’s Adversaries Through Sanctions Act (CAATSA) waiver to help deter aggressors like China.

“The US-India relationship has never been more critical. When you see an expansionist China at an expansionist Russia, I believe this is going to be a defining relationship of the 21st century. And we needed to send a clear message to India that America values this relationship as very important,” Khanna told PTI in an interview.

The legislative amendment was passed last month by voice vote as part of an en bloc (all together as a single unit) amendment during floor consideration of the National Defence Authorisation Act (NDAA). The legislation is yet to be passed by the US Senate before it can be sent to President Biden to be signed into law.

Having the threat of sanctions hanging over India undermines our ability to build that strong strategic relationship. It undermines the ability to strengthen the QUAD with Australia and Japan, the 45-year-old Democrat said.

The bipartisan vote, which had the support of 300 members of the Congress, is the most consequential vote for India-US relationship, he noted.

So, this amendment where you have 300 members of Congress telling president Biden to waive the sanctions is an enormous show of support for that relationship. It’s the most historic vote in the House, since the India civilian nuclear deal. And it doesn’t so much matter whether it’s ultimately in the NDAA or in the Senate, because President Biden has the ultimate authority and this gives him the political mileage to waive off those sanctions, Khanna said.

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