The United States House of Representatives on Friday passed a defence policy Bill worth $621.5 billion (around Rs 41,31,000 crore), which proposes boosting cooperation with India in the sector. The National Defense Authorisation Act, 2018, was passed with 344 to 81 vote, PTI reported.

If the legislation is approved by the US Senate and signed by President Donald Trump, it will come into effect on October 1.

Once the Act comes into effect, the secretary of defence and secretary of state will have three months to come up with a strategy to strengthen cooperation between the US and India in the defence sector.

“The United States is the world’s oldest democracy and India is the world’s largest democracy,” said Indian-American Congressman Ami Bera, who had moved an amendment to the Bill. “It is vitally important to develop a strategy that advances defence cooperation between our two nations.”

Under the Act, the State Department and the Pentagon will have to develop a strategy to address common security challenges, the role of allies in the Indo-US defence relationship, and how technology can be used for defence.

The changes were passed in the Lower House by a voice vote.

Curbs on Pakistan’s funding

Besides passing pro-India amendments, the Lower House also voted in favour legislative amendments to impose tougher conditions to reimburse Pakistan’s defence funds. One amendment, if passed in the Senate, will make it mandatory for Islamabad to show satisfactory progress in its fight against militancy.

The Bill also adds a condition to claim national security waiver on the $400 million (around Rs 2,570 crore) that may be granted to Pakistan between October and December 31, 2017. The secretary of defence will have certify that Islamabad has conducted military operations against the Haqqani regime in north Waziristan.