The senate passed the conference report on the National Defense Authorisation Act for Fiscal Year 2019 (NDAA) by an overwhelming, bipartisan vote of 87 to 10.
The Countering America’s Adversaries Through Sanctions Act (Caatsa) waiver is intended at preventing US sanctions on countries like India. New Delhi is planning to buy five S-400 Triumf air defence systems from Russia for around $4.5 billion.
Passed on Wednesday, the bill, named after Senate Armed Services Committee chairman John McCain, would provide $716 billion support in funding for national defence for fiscal year 2019.
The bill, which now moves to the White House for President Donald Trump to sign into law provides, among other things, a modified waiver to section 231 of the Caatsa.
Unlike the existing version of the act, the proposed modified waiver requires presidential certifications designed to protect US alliances, military operations and sensitive technology. Joshua White, a former senior official of the National Security Council in the White House, said the legislative language of the bill is designed to look very tough as the Congress is tightening its secondary sanctions on countries that procure Russian equipment. “In reality, the language contains multiple loopholes that benefit India,” he said.
At the same time, he cautioned that it was important to remember that even “easy” waivers can have unpredictable political effects.
Anish Goel, a former senior administration official in Barack Obama’s White House, and till recently a senior professional staff member in the Senate Armed Services Committee, said, “By doing so, the Congress has avoided putting serious strain on the bilateral relationship, put additional pressure on the Russian defense industry, and fulfilled the original objective of Caatsa. PTI