US Congress passes bill recognizing India as major defence partner
The United States Congress passed a legislation which recognizes India as a "major defence partner" of America. The annual American military budget, the 2017 National Defence Authorization Act (NDAA), incorporated a provision for this in a section titled, "Enhancing defence and security cooperation with India". It was earlier passed by House of Representatives by 375-34 votes, and now by the Senate by 92-7 votes.
Report after 180 days
After 180 days of passing the bill, the US secretary of defence and secretary of state will submit Congress a report on how the US is supporting its defence relationship with India.
Section 1292 of NDAA
'Enhancing defence and security cooperation with India' forms the Section 1292 of the NDAA bill. This asks the defence secretary and the secretary of the state to take required steps to recognize India as America's major defence partner. It further asks the administration to assign an individual from the executive branch to ensure the success of the Framework for the US-India Defence Relationship.
What does the recognition mean for India?
The major defence partner status means that India can now get access to 99% of the American defence technologies as the "export hurdle of high tech US military hardware and technology to India" is done away with. The act also seeks collaboration with India to develop mutually agreeable mechanisms to verify the security of defence articles, services and related technology.
Two other defence partnership bills stuck in legislative process
Provisions like the defence partnership status for India are usually embedded into budget bills as they would have the effects of the law and can be adopted faster without having to go through full legislative process which involves lengthy reviews and debates. Two bills, the US-India Defense Technology and Partnership Act, and the Advancing US-India Defence Cooperation Act are currently stuck in legislative process.