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Hoyer: Republican Rejection of Bipartisan STEM Visa Bill a Lost Opportunity for America

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Published on Sep 20, 2012

"Mr. Speaker, in order to compete in today's global economy, we need to attract the best and brightest math and science students from around the world.

"American technology and internet companies, which are far and away the best in the world, are in dire need of more highly educated engineers and scientists. We are just not producing enough graduates with the skills to fill these jobs.

"In the long term, we need to educate more Americans in stem fields, but we also must increase the number of stem visas so that our businesses can hire the top international graduates of American universities.

"This could be a broadly bipartisan bill. It could pass easily through the House and the Senate, and the President could sign it into law. But once again Republicans have taken a good bill and laden it down with a partisan poison pill, making it impossible to pass the Senate or attract broad bipartisan support. That poison pill is the elimination of the Diversity Visa Program, which ensures that individuals from a broad array of countries have the opportunity to seek a better life here in America.

"We don't know where our next great innovators will come from, and we ought not close the doors on those who have been waiting patiently to have their number called in some far-off corner of the world. That lottery is not only their salvation but also our benefit. It is part of what makes America great.

"I call on the Republican leadership to withdraw this bill and instead take up the bill introduced by my friend, the Gentlewoman from California, Rep. Lofgren. That version would create opportunities through a new STEM Visa Program without taking current opportunities away.

"I commend Rep. Lofgren for her work on this issue and for helping to sustain that yearning for America that still moves the hearts of millions around the world.

"In light of that, Mr. Speaker, I ask the Gentleman from Texas if he will yield for the purpose of allowing me to make a unanimous consent request to amend his bill by striking all after the enacting clause and replacing the text with that of the Gentlewoman from California's alternative, H.R. 6412, the "Attracting the Best and Brightest Act of 2012."

"I tell my friend: that will accomplish the objectives that you talked about, I've talked about, in getting high-tech people for our companies here in America. They need them. We want them. We ought to get them. And we ought to do it in a bipartisan way. This is an opportunity for bipartisanship that unfortunately has not come as often as we would like.

"I would ask my friend to allow me to make that unanimous consent, that we agree to that, and I guarantee the Gentleman we will get very substantial number of votes on this side of the aisle for that proposition -- and I hope on your side as well.

"Will the Gentleman yield for that unanimous consent?

[The request was denied.]

"The Gentleman has been instructed not to yield to me for that unanimous consent?

"I regret your side of the aisle wouldn't give me that opportunity for America -- for America and our high-tech businesses -- and I yield back the balance of my time."

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