US lawmakers urge Biden administration to provide assistance to India battered by second wave of COVID-19

PTI, Jun 29, 2021, 8:27 AM IST

Washington DC: Describing India as an important friend and ally of the United States, top American lawmakers on Monday urged the Biden administration to help facilitate assistance for the country that has been gravely impacted by the deadly COVID-19 pandemic.

India has recorded more than 30 million coronavirus cases and registered nearly 400,000 deaths due to the virus since the beginning of the pandemic last year. Senior American lawmakers on Monday afternoon took up the floor of the US House of Representatives in support of the House Resolution that urges the Biden administration to facilitate private, in-kind medical supply donations to India and work to deliver additional, urgently needed medical supplies to India, including oxygen generator plants and a cryogenic oxygen tanker and containers.

Introduced by Congressmen Brad Sherman and Steve Chabot, co-chairs of the India Caucus, the bipartisan resolution stands with the people of India as they collectively work to stem the spread of COVID-19 throughout the country.

“I rise in support of H Res 402 urging the administration to facilitate assistance in response to the devastating impact of COVID-19 in India. This resolution… is an excellent measure that solidifies this body’s already strong, bipartisan support for the people of India as they recover from this most recent wave of COVID-19 infections,” Congressman Gregory Meeks, Chairman of the powerful House Foreign Affairs Committee said.

Meeks said Indians from all backgrounds, young and old, urban and rural, have been touched by the pandemic, with infections rising at an alarming rate, the healthcare system struggled to provide care to all those infected and medical supply shortages were reported across the country.

Pleased with the swift response of the Biden administration, Meeks said the US sent much-needed medical supplies to India. “It was not just the American government that contributed, we witnessed many in the Indian American community and the United States private sector rally support to get critical supplies to India,” he said.

“We now see COVID-19 cases starting to come down. But we cannot let our guard down. We must do more to prepare for a potential new wave of infections. It’s important to recognise that none of us will be safe until all of us are safe,” he said.

“The pandemic continues to highlight the importance of India in combating this disease globally. Its role in the global medical manufacturing supply chain is critical to defeating this pandemic. The global community relies on Indian pharmaceutical and vaccine manufacturing capabilities. What happens in India also has spillover effects in neighbouring countries like Nepal,” Meeks said.

Congresswoman Young Kim said in the spring of 2020, when the United States was experiencing a spike in COVID-19 cases, India came to its aid and lifted its export ban on certain drugs in response to a request by the United States.

“In response to India’s surge, the United States quickly delivered much-needed supplies such as PPE, rapid tests, and other drugs to India. This action from the united states, the world’s oldest democracy, to India, the world’s largest democracy, is only fitting,” she said.

“India and the United States are natural partners and COVID-19 has only proven our ties are growing stronger. This resolution further shows the House stands with the people of India as they work to stem the spread of COVID-19 throughout India,” she said and urged her Congressional colleagues to support the resolution.

Co-author of the resolution, Congressman Sherman said the House has a long, bipartisan record of support and strengthening the relationship between India and the United States. The resolution was passed unanimously by the House Foreign Affairs Committee.

Earlier this year, the India Caucus had sent a bipartisan request to the president requesting that the US increase its assistance to India, particularly focusing on the raw materials necessary to manufacture vaccines and oxygen concentration equipment.

By early May, the US had provided over USD 100 million of medical supplies and oxygen support and PPE, he said, adding that the Indian American community has contributed significantly in this.

“This resolution stands with the people of India as they work to stop the spread of COVID-19 and urges the administration to have donations and deliver supplies to India,” Sherman said.

Meeks said that by passing this resolution, the House will send a clear message that the people of the US stand with the people of India as they work to contain the spread of COVID-19.

“We recognise that India will continue to play an important role in containing the further global spread of COVID-19 and support global efforts to end this pandemic. We also urge the administration to continue working with the indian government,” he added.

”Just yesterday, I was at the Indian Consulate in New York where I had the opportunity to talk to the consul general who was appreciative knowing that this house was on the floor today. He asked me to extend thanks to the US and show the American leadership and friendship with the people of India,” Meeks said.

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