India’s Modi invited to deliver ‘historic’ address to Congress this month

Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi has been invited to address a joint session of Congress during his visit to Washington D.C. on June 22.

Modi, who will be in the U.S. on an official state visit , received the invite from the bipartisan leadership of both the House and the Senate.

Speaker Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif) said in the invitation that the foreign leader will have a chance to share his “vision for India’s future and speak to the global challenges both our countries face.”

The invite was also signed by Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.), Senate Republican Leader Mitch McConnell (Ky.) and House Minority Leader Hakeem Jeffries (D-N.Y.).

This comes a week after the co-chairs of the bipartisan Congressional Caucus on India and Indian Americans, Rep. Ro Khanna (D-Calif.) and Rep. Michael Waltz (R-Fla.), wrote to McCarthy urging him to extend the invite to the Indian leader.

If Modi accepts, this will be the prime minister’s second address to the joint session of Congress. His first was in 2016.

“Our relationship is primed for a momentous future,” Modi said at the time. “The constraints of the past are behind us, and foundations of the future are firmly in place.”

Modi’s visit to the U.S. comes as his government has been criticized for the treatment of religious minorities and weakening press freedoms in the country.

The State Department’s annual Religious Freedom Report  also highlighted “continued, targeted attacks against religious communities” in the country that promote “hate-fueled violence.” 

The Indian leader will also meet with President Biden while in the U.S. for a state visit and state dinner this month. Biden is hoping to forge stronger ties with India as the United States looks to counter China’s growing influence in the region.

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Senate Passes Debt Ceiling Bill

The Senate voted Thursday evening to pass the debt ceiling legislation, clearing the way for President Joe Biden to sign it into law.

The Senate vote to pass the debt ceiling bill was 63-36. The Senate also voted on 11 amendments on Thursday night, none of which passed.

The House voted on Wednesday evening to pass the debt ceiling bill, 314-117, with some of the House’s most conservative Republicans opposing it as not going far enough to establish fiscal discipline. A total of 149 Republicans and 165 Democrats voted for the legislation, while 71 Republicans and 46 Democrats voted against it. Another four House members didn’t vote.

Biden and House Speaker Kevin McCarthy, R-Calif., reached a deal  Saturday after weeks of negotiations between Republicans and Democrats.

The 99-page bill , called the Fiscal Responsibility Act of 2023, would rescind roughly $30 billion of unspent COVID-19 relief funds; completely fund veterans’ medical care as proposed in the president’s budget  for fiscal year 2024, and end the COVID-19-era pause in repaying student loans in late August, The Associated Press reported .

Following its passage in the Senate, the legislation will now head to the president’s desk.

Heritage Action for America, the grassroots advocacy arm of The Heritage Foundation, opposed the new legislation resulting from the Biden-McCarthy deal

“This deal does not meet the moment, and it does not address the root problems that have led to nearly $32 trillion in national debt,” Heritage Action said in a written statement . “As members of Congress continue the fight to rein in Washington’s spending addiction and prevent the country’s fiscal ruin, we remain committed to finding solutions to once and for all bend the spending curve down.”

Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen set June 5 as the deadline for lawmakers to act in follow-up letters dated Friday to McCarthy, House Minority Leader Hakeem Jeffries, D-N.Y., Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y., and Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky. 

“Since January, I have highlighted to you the risk that Treasury would be unable to satisfy all of our obligations by early June if Congress did not raise or suspend the debt limit before that time,” Yellen wrote . “In my letters, I also noted that I would continue to update Congress as more information became available.”

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