Senate Immigration Bill Compromise Struck
Today, Senators Schumer (D.-NY) and Hatch (R.-UT) struck a deal to use eight of Hatch's amendments in the Senate Immigration Bill, primarily dealing with H-1B visas. The compromise was key to gaining Hatch's vote for the bill in the Senate Judiciary Committee, and some speculate whether Hatch's affirmative vote will prompt Senator Cornyn (R.-TX) to vote in favor of the bill as well. There are 18 Senators on the Judiciary Committee, and with Hatch as a "yes" vote the bill could pass out of committee with a 13-5 majority. The 10 Democrats on the committee are expected to vote in favor of the bill, as well as Republican Senators Graham and Flake. Republican Senators Grassley, Sessions, Cruz, and Lee are expected to vote no. Senator Cornyn is considered a swing vote.
The amendments that Hatch supported are opposed by the AFL-CIO, but backed by the tech industry. Hatch's accepted amendments deal with H-1B visas in two ways: first, in the original text of the Senate Immigration Bill, companies would have been banned from hiring an H-1B worker without making sure an American worker qualified for the job. Hatch's amendment ensures that this ban does not affect H-1B dependent companies. Second, the original text of the Senate Immigration Bill would have banned companies petitioning for an H-1B worker from firing a U.S. worker within 90 days of filing the petition. Hatch's amendment ensures that companies that do not rely on H-1B workers would only have to claim that they do not intend to displace U.S. workers when hiring for STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math) positions. The Senate Immigration Bill may pass out of committee this week.
A Quick Update on the IRS Scandal:
- Outgoing acting IRS Commissioner Steven Miller resigned earlier last week, stating that "As the acting commissioner, what happens in the IRS - whether I was personally involved or not - stops at my desk. I should be held accountable." He testified in front of the House Ways and Means Committee on Friday.
- In the House Ways and Means hearing, Miller admitted to planting a question in the audience at a conference May 10th aided by a deputy at the IRS, Lois Lerner. The question was asked by Lerner's friend in a way that would expose the targeting of conservative applicants for 501(c)(4) status.
- In response to Republican Rep. Peter Roskam of Illinois's question of why Miller did not come forward to the Ways and Means Committee earlier to reveal the situation, Miller responded that agency officials wanted to wait for the results of an audit by the Treasury Inspector General for the Tax Administration's report. Miller was first briefed on the targeting of conservative groups as early as May 3, 2012. Miller admitted in a letter to members of Congress that those under him at the IRS knew that conservative groups were being targeted as early as June 2011. Lois Lerner discovered the targeting on June 29, 2011.