Press Releases

WASHINGTON – Today, U.S. Senators Mark Warner (D-VA), Rob Portman (R-OH), and John Cornyn (R-TX) sent a letter to Secretary of State Antony Blinken expressing their concerns in regards to the ongoing coronavirus surge in India and asking the administration to take further steps to combat the crisis. The country is currently averaging more than 300,000 new infections every day and its health care system and infrastructure are struggling to keep up with the surge. 

In their letter the senators commended the administration for recent actions to help India address the crisis, including transferring to India lifesaving equipment and raw materials for the production of vaccinesThey also urged the Biden administration to take further steps to help India by continuing its robust contribution to the World Health Organization’s COVAX plan and preparing a detailed strategy on how the U.S. can distribute its surplus of vaccines. Finally, they also warned of disinformation campaigns surrounding the vaccines by countries such as China and Russia and urged the administration to do everything it can to combat these campaigns.

“As you know, India’s healthcare system and infrastructure are struggling to meet the challenges posed by the current and largely unchecked surge, with the country averaging more than 300,000 new infections every day,” said the senators. “We urge you to work with the Department of Defense and other U.S. government agencies, as well as with our international partners and private sector partners to transfer more lifesaving equipment, vaccines and other support to India as quickly as possible. The United States must work with the Indian government on their response, as well as continue to lead the international efforts to stop the spread of variants and to deliver the assistance needed to the Indian people.”

For ways that others can get involved, visit https://www.usaid.gov/.

Text of the letter is below and can be found here.

Dear Secretary Blinken:

We are writing to express our deep concern with the ongoing coronavirus surge and human toll in India and to encourage the Administration to continue to take actions to address the crisis. We commend the recent transfer of lifesaving equipment, including N95 masks and other personal protective equipment, oxygen cylinders, rapid diagnostic tests, and raw materials for the production of vaccines. These deliveries will save lives and demonstrates our commitment to our ally India, the world’s largest democracy. However, we also believe there is more we can do, both to mitigate the tragedy unfolding in India and to ensure that the explosion of cases in India does not undercut global progress to combat this virus. 

As you know, India’s healthcare system and infrastructure are struggling to meet the challenges posed by the current and largely unchecked surge, with the country averaging more than 300,000 new infections every day. We urge you to work with the Department of Defense and other U.S. government agencies, as well as with our international partners and private sector partners to transfer more lifesaving equipment, vaccines and other support to India as quickly as possible. The United States must work with the Indian government on their response, as well as continue to lead the international efforts to stop the spread of variants and to deliver the assistance needed to the Indian people

The United States should also continue its robust contribution to the COVID-19 Vaccines Global Access Facility (COVAX)’s plan for the global acquisition and distribution of vaccines to low and medium-income countries. In addition, in the coming months, the United States will have a surplus of vaccines that can be made available for distribution around the world. A detailed public strategy on how the Department of State plans to distribute these excess vaccines would clarify the ambiguity surrounding future US policy and provide needed certainty to India.

Lastly, we urge the Global Engagement Center to combat the numerous disinformation messages from Russia, China and others regarding the coronavirus pandemic, including the US global health response. Specifically in India, disinformation has undermined the public health response, heightened already-tense religious tensions, and muddied the waters surrounding our support as they face an unprecedented surge in coronavirus infections.  As entities continue to manipulate narratives at the expense of US national security, regional security, and global health security, we urge you to place a greater emphasis on combatting these disinformation and misinformation campaigns integrating that effort into America's global health response to this pandemic.  

We look forward to working with you and the Administration to continue our work to ensure that we stand with our ally and partner, India, as it battles the COVID-19 pandemic.

Sincerely,

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WASHINGTON – Today U.S. Senators and Co-Chairs of the Senate India Caucus Mark Warner (D-VA) and John Cornyn (R-TX) sent a letter to President Biden urging him to ramp up efforts to support hard-hit countries like India by providing them with medical supplies and surplus vaccinations as they manage the recent surge in coronavirus infections 

They wrote, “We write to urge you to accelerate U.S. efforts to support other countries as they work to combat the COVID-19 virus.  As the United States strengthens its capacity to fight this virus, with vastly expanded testing and widespread vaccinations for Americans, we must ramp up our support to countries that are being particularly hard hit, such as India, through the provision of medical supplies and surplus vaccinations. 

“As co-chairs of the Senate India Caucus, we are watching with growing alarm the unprecedented surge of COVID-19 cases, hospitalizations, and deaths, which has overwhelmed hospitals and the overall health system in India.”

“This pandemic has devastated populations and nations across the globe, making very clear that the virus knows no borders. In order to control its spread globally, saving lives abroad and here at home, we must do our part to attack the virus where it is most devastating and active.”

The full text of the letter is here and below.

Dear President Biden:

We write to urge you to accelerate U.S. efforts to support other countries as they work to combat the COVID-19 virus.  As the United States strengthens its capacity to fight this virus, with vastly expanded testing and widespread vaccinations for Americans, we must ramp up our support to countries that are being particularly hard hit, such as India, through the provision of medical supplies and surplus vaccinations. U.S. government agencies – both civilian and military – should be mobilized to lead an international response to the pandemic that both protects the American people from the virus and supports other countries’ efforts. 

Numerous countries are facing record-breaking surges and a devastating number of deaths daily.  India is a case in point. As co-chairs of the Senate India Caucus, we are watching with growing alarm the unprecedented surge of COVID-19 cases, hospitalizations, and deaths, which has overwhelmed hospitals and the overall health system in India. India is the now the epicenter of this crisis and faces a severe shortage of testing kits, vaccines, oxygen equipment, personal protective equipment, and medical facilities. India is also in great need of treatments and medicines, including oxygen, monoclonal antibodies, Remdesivir, and high quality dexamethasone to combat the virus.  

As is the case in this global crisis, this unmitigated surge in COVID-19 not only threatens India and its people, but it threatens the entire world as variants emerge, and nations continue to struggle to limit the virus’ spread. We urge you to find ways to increase support to the most impacted countries, including India, with surplus vaccines, supplies, and field hospitals, as they battle to reduce the number of deaths and new cases. 

The United States has demonstrated real ingenuity and a capacity to scale up its COVID-19 testing and vaccination regimes during the pandemic. We have conducted more than 300 million tests. Now, as the United States averages 2.82 million vaccine doses per day, new cases and deaths have dropped significantly. Even accounting for current and anticipated need domestically, there is now a surplus supply of testing kits that can have the greatest impact abroad, along with personal protective equipment that so many countries desperately need. In addition, with millions of unused AstraZeneca vaccine doses on hand, the U.S. has the ability to send many abroad without a detrimental impact to our own vaccination efforts at this crucial time. We applaud and encourage your efforts to share AstraZeneca doses with India and other countries in need as they come available.

Finally, we congratulate you for taking specific actions to remove obstacles that would get in the way of sending excess vaccines to India. While India has significant capacity to vaccinate, its per capita vaccination rates are insufficient to cover such a large population. Further, we urge you to remove the export embargo on raw materials to India used in vaccine production, which would allow The Serum Institute of India to ramp up production of vaccines that it already produces domestically. We ask that you also assess similar barriers that prohibit the sharing of excess vaccines with other nations. 

As you design your strategy to provide assistance to India and other nations, we ask that you consider the needs outlined above. This pandemic has devastated populations and nations across the globe, making very clear that the virus knows no borders. In order to control its spread globally, saving lives abroad and here at home, we must do our part to attack the virus where it is most devastating and active. We appreciate your commitment to helping our global partners in our shared efforts to combat this disease, and we thank you for your attention to this important matter. 

Sincerely,

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WASHINGTON – Today, U.S. Sens. Mark R. Warner (D-VA) and John Cornyn (R-TX), co-chairs of the Senate India Caucus, issued the following statement following President Trump’s visit to India:

“As co-chairs of the India Caucus, we welcome the commitments made by the United States and India during President Trump’s recent visit to India to expand the partnership between our two countries and our two peoples. Both countries agreed to continue working together to ensure a free and open Indo-Pacific region, secure 5G and an open internet, increase our defense trade, strengthen our energy partnership, expand counterterrorism, maritime, cyber, and space cooperation, as well as to expand educational exchanges – all of which will benefit both of our countries. At the same time, we are alarmed by the recent violence in New Delhi. We continue to support an open dialogue on issues of significant concern in order to advance our vital long-term relationship.”

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WASHINGTON—U.S. Senator John Cornyn (R-TX) and Mark Warner (D-VA), co-chairs of the Senate India Caucus, sent a letter to United States Trade Representative, Ambassador Robert Lighthizer, urging him to consider delaying the issuance of a proclamation to withdraw India’s Generalized System of Preferences (GSP) program benefits and to keep an open dialogue with the Indian Government.

“As Co-Chairs of the United States Senate’s India Caucus, we fully appreciate and support your efforts to address a host of market access issues facing American businesses in India. Congressional support for the GSP program was made clear last year when the U.S. Senate and U.S. House of Representatives reauthorized the program, in nearly unanimous fashion, for three years. While we agree that there are a number of market access issues that can and should be addressed, we do remain concerned that the withdrawal of duty concessions will make Indian exports of eligible products to the United States costlier, as the importer of those products will have to pay a ‘Most Favored Nation’ (MFN), duty which is higher than the rate under GSP. Some of these costs will likely be passed on to American consumers,” the Senators wrote. 

“We believe that allowing for continued negotiations beyond the elections would underscore the importance of this bilateral relationship and provide a real opportunity to resolve these market access issues, potentially improving the overall U.S.-India relationship for years to come.”

 

The signed letter is here, and full text is below.

 

April 12, 2019

 

The Honorable Robert E. Lighthizer

Ambassador

Office of the United States Trade Representative

600 17th Street, N.W.

Washington, D.C., 20508

 

Dear Ambassador Lighthizer:

 

We write to you today regarding the ongoing negotiations between the Office of the United States Trade Representative (USTR) and India’s Ministry of Commerce and Industry regarding the duty-free treatment of goods under the Generalized System of Preferences (GSP) program.

 

As you know, in April 2018, the USTR announced that it planned to review the GSP eligibility of a number of countries, including India. The USTR’s announcement specifically cited “concerns related to its compliance with GSP market access criterion,” based on petitions filed from the U.S. medical device and dairy industries. On March 4, 2019, Congress was notified of USTR’s intention to terminate India’s designation as a beneficiary developing country under GSP due to a lack of compliance. We understand that the Administration may issue a proclamation withdrawing India’s GSP benefits 60 days or later from the congressional notification date.

 

As Co-Chairs of the United States Senate’s India Caucus, we fully appreciate and support your efforts to address a host of market access issues facing American businesses in India. Congressional support for the GSP program was made clear last year when the U.S. Senate and U.S. House of Representatives reauthorized the program, in nearly unanimous fashion, for three years. While we agree that there are a number of market access issues that can and should be addressed, we do remain concerned that the withdrawal of duty concessions will make Indian exports of eligible products to the United States costlier, as the importer of those products will have to pay a “Most Favored Nation” (MFN), duty which is higher than the rate under GSP. Some of these costs will likely be passed on to American consumers.

 

As you know, India’s elections will conclude on May 23, 2019. We believe that the election season may serve as a hindrance for our Indian counterparts in negotiating and concluding a deal on difficult political issues. If another round of negotiations during the election season does not resolve the outstanding issues, we would ask you to consider delaying the issuance of a Presidential proclamation to withdraw India’s GSP benefits by at least 30 days, beyond the 60 day calendar, in order to move the negotiations beyond India’s elections. We believe that allowing for continued negotiations beyond the elections would underscore the importance of this bilateral relationship and provide a real opportunity to resolve these market access issues, potentially improving the overall U.S.-India relationship for years to come.

 

We appreciate you and team’s continued efforts to resolve a small but significant set of trade issues through the GSP review process. We stand ready and willing to assist in any way possible to ensure that the U.S.-India relationship remains strong.

 

Sincerely,

/s/

 

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Ms. Ryann DuRant

Press Secretary

Sen. John Cornyn (R-TX)

 

WASHINGTON – Today, U.S. Sens. Mark R. Warner (D-VA) and John Cornyn (R-TX), co-chairs of the bipartisan Senate India Caucus, released the following statement on rising tensions in the Kashmir Region, following the reported downing by Pakistan of an Indian military plane and a terrorist attack that killed 40 Indian military police earlier this month:

“We condemn the horrific attack on Indian security forces by a known terrorist group based in Pakistan. For too long Pakistan has harbored terrorist groups that have threatened stability in Asia and around the world. At the same time, it is critical that both India and Pakistan take immediate measures to deescalate the volatile situation along their border. We urge the governments of both nuclear-armed neighbors to step back and avoid further provocative actions while keeping open lines of communication and working to reduce tensions.”

 

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