Wednesday, November 28, 2012

Dueling STEM Bills

The House is expected to vote on Friday, November 30, 2012 on the “STEM Jobs Act,” introduced by Lamar Smith (R-Texas).  The bill would create 55,000 green cards for holders of advanced degrees in science, technology, engineering and math from U.S. institutions. The bill would also create a special temporary visa for foreign students planning to study STEM fields at U.S. universities, which would make it easier for them to become permanent residents upon graduation. 

Representative Zoe Lofgren (D San Jose) opposes the elimination of the visa lottery which is the source of the extra visa numbers used by the STEM Jobs Act.  Ms. Lofgren has introduced a Silicon Valley-friendly competing STEM green card bill that does not contain restrictionist  provisions.

Democrats worry that passage of the Smith bill in the lame duck session of Congress will weaken chances for comprehensive immigration reform measures that the administration has made a legislative priority in President Obama’s second term.