(House of Representatives - October 03, 2000)

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[Pages H8699-H8706]
From the Congressional Record Online through the Government Publishing Office []


  Mr. CANNON. Mr. Speaker, I move to suspend the rules and pass the 
Senate bill (S. 2045) to amend the Immigration and Nationality Act with 
respect to H-1B nonimmigrant aliens, as amended.
  The Clerk read as follows:

                                S. 2045

       Be it enacted by the Senate and House of Representatives of 
     the United States of America in Congress assembled,


       This Act may be cited as the ``American Competitiveness in 
     the Twenty-first Century Act of 2000''.


       In addition to the number of aliens who may be issued visas 
     or otherwise provided nonimmigrant status under section 
     101(a)(15)(H)(i)(b) of the Immigration and Nationality Act (8 
     U.S.C. 1101 (a)(15)(H)(i)(b)), the following number of aliens 
     may be issued such visas or otherwise provided such status 
     for each of the following fiscal years:
       (1) 80,000 for fiscal year 2000;
       (2) 87,500 for fiscal year 2001; and
       (3) 130,000 for fiscal year 2002.


       Section 214(g) of the Immigration and Nationality Act (8 
     U.S.C. 1184(g)) is amended by adding at the end the following 
     new paragraphs:
       ``(5) The numerical limitations contained in paragraph 
     (1)(A) shall not apply to any nonimmigrant alien issued a 
     visa or otherwise provided status under section 
       ``(A) who is employed (or has received an offer of 
     employment) at--
       ``(i) an institution of higher education (as defined in 
     section 101(a) of the Higher Education Act of 1965 (20 U.S.C. 
     1001(a))), or a related or affiliated nonprofit entity; or
       ``(ii) a nonprofit research organization or a governmental 
     research organization; or
       ``(B) for whom a petition is filed not more than 90 days 
     before or not more than 180 days after the nonimmigrant has 
     attained a master's degree or higher degree from an 
     institution of higher education (as defined in section 101(a) 
     of the Higher Education Act of 1965 (20 U.S.C. 1001(a))).
       ``(6) Any alien who ceases to be employed by an employer 
     described in paragraph (5)(A) shall, if employed as a 
     nonimmigrant alien described in section 101(a)(15)(H)(i)(b), 
     be counted toward the numerical limitations contained in 
     paragraph (1)(A) the first time the alien is employed by an 
     employer other than one described in paragraph (5)(A).''.


       (a) Special Rules.--Section 202(a) of the Immigration and 
     Nationality Act (8 U.S.C. 1152(a)) is amended by adding at 
     the end the following new paragraph:
       ``(5) Rules for employment-based immigrants.--
       ``(A) Employment-based immigrants not subject to per 
     country limitation if additional visas available.--If the 
     total number of visas available under paragraph (1), (2), 
     (3), (4), or (5) of section 203(b) for a calendar quarter 
     exceeds the number of qualified immigrants who may otherwise 
     be issued such visas, the visas made available under that 
     paragraph shall be issued without regard to the numerical 
     limitation under paragraph (2) of this subsection during the 
     remainder of the calendar quarter.
       ``(B) Limiting fall across for certain countries subject to 
     subsection (e).--In the case of a foreign state or dependent 
     area to which subsection (e) applies, if the total number of 
     visas issued under section 203(b) exceeds the maximum number 
     of visas that may be made available to immigrants of the 
     state or area under section 203(b) consistent with subsection 
     (e) (determined without regard to this paragraph), in 
     applying subsection (e) all visas shall be deemed to have 
     been required for the classes of aliens specified in section 
       (b) Conforming Amendments.--
       (1) Section 202(a)(2) of the Immigration and Nationality 
     Act (8 U.S.C. 1152(a)(2)) is amended by striking ``paragraphs 
     (3) and (4)'' and inserting ``paragraphs (3), (4), and (5)''.
       (2) Section 202(e)(3) of the Immigration and Nationality 
     Act (8 U.S.C. 1152(e)(3)) is amended by striking ``the 
     proportion of the visa numbers'' and inserting ``except as 
     provided in subsection (a)(5), the proportion of the visa 
       (c) One-Time Protection Under Per Country Ceiling.--
     Notwithstanding section 214(g)(4) of the Immigration and 
     Nationality Act, any alien who--
       (1) is the beneficiary of a petition filed under section 
     204(a) for a preference status under paragraph (1), (2), or 
     (3) of section 203(b); and
       (2) would be subject to the per country limitations 
     applicable to immigrants under those paragraphs but for this 
     may apply for, and the Attorney General may grant, an 
     extension of such nonimmigrant status until the alien's 
     application for adjustment of status has been processed and a 
     decision made thereon.


       (a) In General.--Section 214 of the Immigration and 
     Nationality Act (8 U.S.C. 1184) is amended by adding at the 
     end the following new subsection:
       ``(m)(1) A nonimmigrant alien described in paragraph (2) 
     who was previously issued a visa or otherwise provided 
     nonimmigrant status under section 101(a)(15)(H)(i)(b) is 
     authorized to accept new employment upon the filing by the 
     prospective employer of a new petition on behalf of 
     such nonimmigrant as provided under subsection (a). 
     Employment authorization shall continue for such alien 
     until the new petition is adjudicated. If the new petition 
     is denied, employment authorization shall cease.
       ``(2) A nonimmigrant alien described in this paragraph is a 
     nonimmigrant alien--
       ``(A) who has been lawfully admitted into the United 
       ``(B) on whose behalf an employer has filed a nonfrivolous 
     application for new employment or extension of status before 
     the date of expiration of the period of stay authorized by 
     the Attorney General; and
       ``(C) who has not been employed without authorization in 
     the United States before or during the pendency of such 
     petition for new employment.''.
       (b) Effective Date.--The amendment made by subsection (a) 
     shall apply to petitions filed before, on, or after the date 
     of enactment of this Act.


       (a) Exemption From Limitation.--The limitation contained in 
     section 214(g)(4) of the Immigration and Nationality Act with 
     respect to the duration of authorized stay shall not apply to 
     any nonimmigrant alien previously issued a visa or otherwise 
     provided nonimmigrant status under section 
     101(a)(15)(H)(i)(b) of the Immigration and Nationality Act on 
     whose behalf a petition under section 204(b) to accord the 
     alien immigrant status under section 203(b), or an 
     application for adjustment of status under section 245 to 
     accord the alien status under section 203(b), has been filed, 
     if 365 days or more have elapsed since the filing of a labor 
     certification application on the alien's behalf, if such 
     certification is required for the alien to obtain status 
     under section 203(b), or if 365 days or more have elapsed 
     since the filing of the petition under section 204(b).
       (b) Extension of H1-B Worker Status.--The Attorney General 
     shall extend the stay of an alien who qualifies for an 
     exemption under subsection (a) in one-year increments until 
     such time as a final decision is made on the alien's lawful 
     permanent residence.

                   THROUGH FISCAL YEAR 2002.

       (a) Attestation Requirements.--Section 212(n)(1)(E)(ii)) of 
     the Immigration and Nationality Act (8 U.S.C. 
     1182(n)(1)(E)(ii)) is amended by striking ``October 1, 2001'' 
     and inserting ``October 1, 2002''.
       (b) Fee Requirements.--Section 214(c)(9)(A) of the 
     Immigration and Nationality Act (8 U.S.C. 1184(c)(9)(A)) is 
     amended in the text above clause (i) by striking ``October 1, 
     2001'' and inserting ``October 1, 2002''.
       (c) Department of Labor Investigative Authorities.--Section 
     413(e)(2) of the American Competitiveness and Workforce 
     Improvement Act of 1998 (as contained in title IV of division 
     C of Public Law 105-277) is amended by striking ``September 
     30, 2001'' and inserting ``September 30, 2002''.


       Section 214(g)(3) of the Immigration and Nationality Act (8 
     U.S.C. 1184 (g)(3)) is amended to read as follows:
       ``(3) Aliens who are subject to the numerical limitations 
     of paragraph (1) shall be issued visas (or otherwise provided 
     nonimmigrant status) in the order in which petitions are 
     filed for such visas or status. If an alien who was issued a 
     visa or otherwise provided nonimmigrant status and counted 
     against the numerical limitations of paragraph (1) is found 
     to have been issued such visa or otherwise provided such 
     status by fraud or willfully misrepresenting a material fact 
     and such visa or nonimmigrant status is revoked, then one 
     number shall be restored to the total number of aliens who 
     may be issued visas or otherwise provided such status under 
     the numerical limitations of paragraph (1) in the fiscal year 
     in which the petition is revoked, regardless of the fiscal 
     year in which the petition was approved.''.


       (a) Study.--The National Science Foundation shall conduct a 
     study of the divergence in access to high technology 
     (commonly referred to as the ``digital divide'') in the 
     United States.
       (b) Report.--Not later than 18 months after the date of 
     enactment of this Act, the Director of the National Science 
     Foundation shall submit a report to Congress setting forth 
     the findings of the study conducted under subsection (a).


       (a) Allocation of Funds.--Section 286(s) of the Immigration 
     and Nationality Act (8 U.S.C. 1356(s)) is amended--
       (1) in paragraph (2), by striking ``56.3 percent'' and 
     inserting ``36.2 percent'';

[[Page H8700]]

       (2) in paragraph (3), by striking ``28.2 percent'' and 
     inserting ``30.7 percent''; and
       (3) in paragraph (4)(A), by striking ``4 percent'' and 
     inserting ``2.5 percent''.
       (b) Low-Income Scholarship Program.--Section 414(d)(3) of 
     the American Competitiveness and Workforce Improvement Act of 
     1998 (as contained in title IV of division C of Public Law 
     105-277) is amended by striking ``2,500 per year.'' and 
     inserting ``3,125 per year. The Director may renew 
     scholarships for up to 4 years.''.
       (c) National Science Foundation Grant Program.--Section 
     286(s)(4)(B) of the Immigration and Nationality Act (8 U.S.C. 
     1356(s)) is amended to read as follows:
       ``(B) National science foundation competitive grant program 
     for k-12 math, science and technology education.--(i) 25.8 
     percent of the amounts deposited into the H-1B Nonimmigrant 
     Petitioner Account shall remain available to the Director of 
     the National Science Foundation until expended to carry out a 
     direct and/or matching grant program to support private-
     public partnerships in K-12 education.
       ``(ii) Types of programs covered.--The Director shall award 
     grants to such programs, including, those which support the 
     development and implementation of standards-based 
     instructional materials models and related student 
     assessments that enable K-12 students to acquire an 
     understanding of science, mathematics, and technology, as 
     well as to develop critical thinking skills; provide 
     systemic improvement in training K-12 teachers and 
     education for students in science, mathematics, and 
     technology; stimulate system-wide K-12 reform of science, 
     mathematics, and technology in rural, economically 
     disadvantaged regions of the United States; provide 
     externships and other opportunities for students to 
     increase their appreciation and understanding of science, 
     mathematics, engineering, and technology; involve 
     partnerships of industry, educational institutions, and 
     community organizations to address the educational needs 
     of disadvantaged communities; and college preparatory 
     support to expose and prepare students for careers in 
     science, mathematics, engineering, and technology.''.
       (d) Reporting Requirements.--Section 414 of the American 
     Competitiveness and Workforce Improvement Act of 1998 (as 
     contained in title IV of division C of Public Law 105-277) is 
     amended by adding at the end the following new subsection:
       ``(e) The Secretary of the Department of Labor and the 
     Director of the National Science Foundation shall--
       ``(1) track and monitor the performance of programs 
     receiving H-1B Nonimmigrant Fee grant money; and
       ``(2) not later than one year after the date of enactment 
     of this subsection, submit a report to the Committees on the 
     Judiciary of the House of Representatives and the Senate--
       ``(A) the tracking system to monitor the performance of 
     programs receiving H-1B grant funding; and
       ``(B) the number of individuals who have completed training 
     and have entered the high-skill workforce through these 


       (a) Short Title.--This section may be cited as the ``Kids 
     2000 Act''.
       (b) Findings.--Congress makes the following findings:
       (1) There is an increasing epidemic of juvenile crime 
     throughout the United States.
       (2) It is well documented that the majority of juvenile 
     crimes take place during after-school hours.
       (3) Knowledge of technology is becoming increasingly 
     necessary for children in school and out of school.
       (4) The Boys and Girls Clubs of America have 2,700 clubs 
     throughout all 50 States, serving over 3,000,000 boys and 
     girls primarily from at-risk communities.
       (5) The Boys and Girls Clubs of America have the physical 
     structures in place for immediate implementation of an after-
     school technology program.
       (6) Building technology centers and providing integrated 
     content and full-time staffing at those centers in the Boys 
     and Girls Clubs of America nationwide will help foster 
     education, job training, and an alternative to crime for at-
     risk youth.
       (7) Partnerships between the public sector and the private 
     sector are an effective way of providing after-school 
     technology programs in the Boys and Girls Clubs of America.
       (8) PowerUp: Bridging the Digital Divide is an entity 
     comprised of more than a dozen nonprofit organizations, major 
     corporations, and Federal agencies that have joined together 
     to launch a major new initiative to help ensure that 
     America's underserved young people acquire the skills, 
     experiences, and resources they need to succeed in the 
     digital age.
       (9) Bringing PowerUp into the Boys and Girls Clubs of 
     America will be an effective way to ensure that our youth 
     have a safe, crime-free environment in which to learn the 
     technological skills they need to close the divide between 
     young people who have access to computer-based information 
     and technology-related skills and those who do not.
       (c) After-School Technology Grants to the Boys and Girls 
     Clubs of America.--
       (1) Purposes.--The Attorney General shall make grants to 
     the Boys and Girls Clubs of America for the purpose of 
     funding effective after-school technology programs, such as 
     PowerUp, in order to provide--
       (A) constructive technology-focused activities that are 
     part of a comprehensive program to provide access to 
     technology and technology training to youth during after-
     school hours, weekends, and school vacations;
       (B) supervised activities in safe environments for youth; 
       (C) full-time staffing with teachers, tutors, and other 
     qualified personnel.
       (2) Subawards.--The Boys and Girls Clubs of America shall 
     make subawards to local boys and girls clubs authorizing 
     expenditures associated with providing technology programs 
     such as PowerUp, including the hiring of teachers and other 
     personnel, procurement of goods and services, including 
     computer equipment, or such other purposes as are approved by 
     the Attorney General.
       (d) Applications.--
       (1) Eligibility.--In order to be eligible to receive a 
     grant under this section, an applicant for a subaward 
     (specified in subsection (c)(2)) shall submit an application 
     to the Boys and Girls Clubs of America, in such form and 
     containing such information as the Attorney General may 
     reasonably require.
       (2) Application requirements.--Each application submitted 
     in accordance with paragraph (1) shall include--
       (A) a request for a subgrant to be used for the purposes of 
     this section;
       (B) a description of the communities to be served by the 
     grant, including the nature of juvenile crime, violence, and 
     drug use in the communities;
       (C) written assurances that Federal funds received under 
     this section will be used to supplement and not supplant, 
     non-Federal funds that would otherwise be available for 
     activities funded under this section;
       (D) written assurances that all activities funded under 
     this section will be supervised by qualified adults;
       (E) a plan for assuring that program activities will take 
     place in a secure environment that is free of crime and 
       (F) a plan outlining the utilization of content-based 
     programs such as PowerUp, and the provision of trained adult 
     personnel to supervise the after-school technology training; 
       (G) any additional statistical or financial information 
     that the Boys and Girls Clubs of America may reasonably 
       (e) Grant Awards.--In awarding subgrants under this 
     section, the Boys and Girls Clubs of America shall consider--
       (1) the ability of the applicant to provide the intended 
       (2) the history and establishment of the applicant in 
     providing youth activities; and
       (3) the extent to which services will be provided in crime-
     prone areas and technologically underserved populations, and 
     efforts to achieve an equitable geographic distribution of 
     the grant awards.
       (f) Authorization of Appropriations.--
       (1) In general.--There is authorized to be appropriated 
     $20,000,000 for each of the fiscal years 2001 through 2006 to 
     carry out this section.
       (2) Source of funds.--Funds to carry out this section may 
     be derived from the Violent Crime Reduction Trust Fund.
       (3) Continued availability.--Amounts made available under 
     this subsection shall remain available until expended.
       Amend the title to read as follows: ``A bill to amend the 
     Immigration and Nationality Act with respect to H-1B 
     nonimmigrant aliens, and to establish a crime prevention and 
     computer education initiative.''.

  The SPEAKER pro tempore. Pursuant to the rule, the gentleman from 
Utah (Mr. Cannon) and the gentleman from Michigan (Mr. Conyers) each 
will control 20 minutes.
  The Chair recognizes the gentleman from Utah (Mr. Cannon).

                             General Leave

  Mr. CANNON. Mr. Speaker, I ask unanimous consent that all Members may 
have 5 legislative days within which to revise and extend their remarks 
and include extraneous material on S. 2045, as amended.
  The SPEAKER pro tempore. Is there objection to the request of the 
gentleman from Utah?
  There was no objection.
  Mr. CANNON. Mr. Speaker, I yield myself such time as I may consume.
  Mr. Speaker, I am pleased today to rise in support of this 
legislation. I am pleased that we are moving forward on this vital 
issue for our economy.
  America is ascendant. We have a strong, consumer-driven, innovative 
economy that is continuing to grow. We have more high-tech products 
available to our citizens than any other country in the world. Low-
cost, high-speed access to the Internet is becoming a reality for every 
person in America. The latest employment numbers show that this high 
technology-driven economy has created 340,000 new jobs and the 
unemployment rate is at 3.9 percent, a 30-year low.
  The legislation before us today will help this economic prosperity 
continue by meeting the critical need for skilled workers, workers we 
cannot get enough of. A key but little known fact about this booming 
high-tech economy is that it is dependent upon skilled workers. We need 
those. That is like lifeblood for us.
  We cannot produce enough of these highly skilled workers quickly 
enough from our own education system to keep pace with the demand. For 
years we have had a special immigration program, the H-1B visa, which 
allows highly skilled workers to come to this

[[Page H8701]]

country temporarily to work for American companies in order to meet 
critical shortages of skilled personnel.
  Unfortunately, the current program still does not provide enough 
visas to meet the growing demands and the growing shortfall of 
domestically educated high-tech workers. The current ceiling of 115,000 
visas per year was reached in March, less than halfway through the 
current fiscal year.
  All the world wants to come to this land of opportunity to develop 
and market their ideas. We want them to come. We want everyone to be 
able to follow his or her dreams and enrich themselves and enrich this 
country. The fact that the best and the brightest from the rest of the 
world want to come here and work and learn, to invent and build 
businesses is the ultimate compliment to our system. We should welcome 
them with open arms. This is how America spreads democracy and the rule 
of law. The people will make our country and our economy better while 
they are here and will take our concept of freedom back to their homes 
and initiate change there.
  We have worked hard on this H-1B legislation to open the doors wide 
to educated people, so that they can come to the United States and give 
us the benefits as they develop their ideas. This is the American 
dream. It should be available to everyone everywhere.
  The American Competitiveness in the 21st Century Act of 2000 will 
feed the high-tech economy with these vital workers by providing 
195,000 H-1B visas in fiscal 2000, and that is 80,000 in addition to 
the 115,000 we currently have; 195,000 for the fiscal year 2001, and 
195,000 for fiscal 2002.
  Our opponents complain that a greater focus on education of American 
workers is the answer. But this long-term solution cannot meet today's 
critical need.

                              {time}  1830

  American companies will always want to recruit the top professionals 
they can find, but there is no reason why they should have to choose 
between hiring the most qualified employees now to meet their immediate 
needs and support long-term excellence in our schools in the high-tech 
workforce. They can do both. We can do both.
  The supporters of this legislation read like a who's who of the most 
innovative, fastest-growing companies in America, the companies who 
drive this economy forward: Microsoft, Intel, Sysco Systems, Sun 
Microsystems, Hewlett Packard, and Texas Instruments. Their demands are 
infinitely reasonable. The only shame in all this is that we have to 
spend a year working with Congress to allow them to hire people and 
create more jobs.
  Mr. Speaker, I reserve the balance of my time.
  Mr. CONYERS. Mr. Speaker, I yield myself such time as I may consume.
  Mr. Speaker, I plan to support this bill before us, even though it 
got out of the Senate only hours ago; yesterday sometime.
  The legislation before us today would adjust the H-1B visa cap to 
meet the immediate and critical needs of our high-technology economy. 
To tell the truth, the bill is a significant improvement to the 
committee-passed bill in the Judiciary, which would have imposed 
significant new restrictions that would have made it far more difficult 
for American employers to utilize the H-1B program.
  This enormous success of our American economy has, in large part, 
been driven by our information technology industry. As a matter of 
fact, the Department of Commerce estimates that more than 1.3 million 
technology workers will be needed over the next decade. Where are we 
going to get them? Ensuring that the United States has sufficient, 
qualified, high-technology personnel will be a critical determinant of 
the success of our national economy over the years to come. So I 
believe it is imperative that we add some temporary visas, that we 
provide for greater permanent visas, and that we attempt to educate our 
own citizens so that we can meet these needs.
  But I must point out that there are some concerns that I have with 
the manner that this legislation came to the floor. First off, we are 
taking up the Senate-passed bill under suspension of the rules; there 
is only one copy in this room, and it is at the Speaker's desk. There 
is no opportunity for amendment by anyone in the Congress. In this 
respect, I would note that the bill before us does not contain the 
increase in visa fees provided under the Lofgren-Dreier bill. This is 
not a good occasion. By contrast, that bill would have increased fees 
by $500 and then allocated 90 percent of the additional revenue to the 
existing math, computer science, engineering and science related 
enrichment and regional skills alliances designed to train current 
  In other words, our measure would have allowed us to begin to prepare 
qualified high-tech workers inside the United States. The Clinton 
administration likewise has some excellent proposals in the fee area, 
and I hope that this language will be added to some other piece of 
legislation before we adjourn.
  Number two, the bill fails to contain any of the Latino Fairness 
provisions that those of us in the House, particularly the 
Congressional Hispanic Caucus, led by the gentlewoman from California 
(Ms. Roybal-Allard), and specifically worked on by our distinguished 
colleague, the gentleman from Illinois (Mr. Gutierrez) and other 
Members in the House and Senate who have been pushing these provisions 
urged by the Congressional Hispanic Caucus and by the Congressional 
Black Caucus. These provisions would provide immigration parity for 
Central Americans and Haitians, would grant late amnesty to individuals 
unfairly denied relief under the 1986 law, and restore section 245(i) 
relief to persons seeking to adjust their immigration status in the 
United States.
  In my view, if we are going to open our borders to hundreds of 
thousands of foreign nationals who do not live here to fill employment 
needs under the H-1B program, the very least we can do is address the 
existing inequities faced by persons who already live and work here and 
have family ties in this country.
  Yet the majority continues to ignore these very reasonable proposals. 
They have refused to give us a hearing in the Committee on the 
Judiciary; and, thus, we have not had a markup. Today we do not even 
have the opportunity of offering an amendment so that we can vote our 
conscience on the House floor.
  In terms of the immigration parity provisions, relief is needed to 
correct unfair and discriminatory provisions enacted by the majority in 
the last two Congresses. In 1996, this Congress made it almost 
impossible for deserving immigrants to obtain suspension or deportation 
relief. In 1997, they compounded the problem by offering relief from 
the 1996 law to Cubans and Nicaraguans but not other Central Americans 
or Haitians.
  I want to quickly add that our Cuban American Members of Congress 
joined us in supporting a modification that would include Central 
Americans and Haitians, and I compliment them for that.
  The individuals we want to protect came to our shores fleeing 
persecution at home. They have jobs and families and roots in this 
country. They deserve the same consideration we have given other groups 
of immigrants.
  As for the late amnesty provisions, there is a need to restore 
fairness to those immigrants who were eligible to apply for 
legalization in the mid-1980s but were not able to do so because the 
Immigration and Naturalization Service misinterpreted the law that the 
Congress passed. Had their application been timely processed, most of 
these immigrants would already be citizens.

  In 1996, the majority compounded the problem once again by stripping 
the courts of their authority to grant relief for the wronged 
legalization applicants. Updating the registry date to 1986 will avoid 
all of these problems.
  So I support the bill with these reservations. It is a marked 
improvement over our committee product, but I pledge today that our 
work should not be considered yet done on immigration in this Congress. 
We must increase the fees, otherwise we will be giving our children and 
workers the short shrift in terms of education funding. We have people 
here that can and deserve to be high-tech workers in the computer 
industry, and we must provide some equity to Latino and Haitian 
immigrants who are already here.
  Please, members of this committee, as a nation of immigrants, we 
cannot shut our doors and hearts to these individuals.

[[Page H8702]]

  Mr. Speaker, I reserve the balance of my time.
  Mr. CANNON. Mr. Speaker, I yield myself such time as I may consume to 
thank the gentleman from Michigan (Mr. Conyers) for his limited support 
of this bill. It is an important bill.
  I would just point out that the Senate version has been around for a 
very long time. There are at least two copies; the Speaker has a copy 
and my staff has a copy here. So the issue has been around for a while 
and it is a very important issue that we need to move forward with 
under the current circumstances.
  Mr. Speaker, I yield such time as he may consume to the gentleman 
from Texas (Mr. Smith), the chairman of the Subcommittee on Immigration 
and Claims.
  Mr. SMITH of Texas. Mr. Speaker, I want to recognize two Members on 
the House floor tonight. The gentleman from California (Mr. Dreier), 
who is chairman of the House Committee on Rules, has been a tireless 
advocate on behalf of the high-tech industry. I do not know of anyone 
who has worked harder, invested more time and energy, or is more 
responsible for the bill that we are considering tonight being on the 
House floor, and I would like to congratulate him in advance on the 
expected passage of this bill.
  Second of all, the gentleman from Utah (Mr. Cannon), who just yielded 
me the time, is an active member of the Subcommittee on Immigration and 
Claims, and he too has been a steadfast advocate of the high-tech 
industry. The gentleman from Utah himself is an entrepreneur and he 
understands firsthand the needs of the high-tech industry.
  Mr. Speaker, although there is still no objective credible study that 
documents the shortage of American high-tech workers, the INS said 
recently that the demand for highly skilled foreign workers is running 
at least 50,000 ahead of last year. Such a demand can indicate an 
actual shortage of American workers, a spot shortage, a preference for 
cheap labor or replacement workers, or something else. But because of 
the importance of the high-tech industry to our economy, I think we 
should give the industry the benefit of the doubt.
  But giving high-tech companies the benefit of the doubt is not 
without risk, unless we safeguard American workers. We need to 
recognize the opposition of the American people to an H-1B visa 
increase, Mr. Speaker. Two major polls demonstrate that the vast 
majority of Americans do not want to see the number of high-tech visas 
increased so much and worry that it will hurt American workers.
  A Peter Hart poll conducted in March found that 73 percent of 
Americans do not want to see immigration law changed to allow the entry 
of more foreign high-tech workers. Only 20 percent wanted more foreign 
  A Harris poll, released in September 1998, found that 82 percent of 
Americans do not want to see the H-1B quota increased. The poll found 
that 77 percent of Americans believe that an increase in H-1B visas 
reduces employment opportunities for American workers. And 86 percent 
of Americans believe that U.S. companies should train U.S. workers to 
perform jobs in technical fields, even if it is faster and less 
expensive to fill the jobs with foreign workers.
  To satisfy the concerns of the American people, we need to protect 
American workers from being undercut by foreign workers in the H-1B 
program. S.2045 contains no significant provisions to protect these 
American workers. It does not require most companies to make a good-
faith effort to recruit U.S. workers before hiring foreign workers. It 
allows all but a small handful of firms to lay off American workers and 
replace the American workers with foreign workers.
  Why would anyone oppose these common sense safeguards? What amazes me 
is that in all the discussions I have had with representatives of high-
tech companies, not a single one has expressed any concern about the 
impact of this legislation on American workers. How could anyone oppose 
a safeguard that says American workers could not be fired and replaced 
by a foreign worker? How could anyone not agree to advertise for 
American workers before hiring from abroad? How could anyone oppose 
paying foreign workers what the average beginning salary is for 
American college graduates, unless they want to undercut American 
  The Committee on the Judiciary passed a bill, H.R. 4227, that 
contains an additional crucial safeguard for American workers. The 
Committee on the Judiciary passed a bill that set a floor on wages for 
these workers; $40,000 per year. This wage is a good starting point for 
any high-tech professional. It is a salary that American students fresh 
out of college are making. This crucial safeguard would prevent U.S. 
companies from hiring foreign workers to undercut the wages of American 
  Strong anti-fraud measures are also necessary to address known 
abuses. An article in last Thursday's ``San Francisco Chronicle'' says 
it all: ``Federal authorities have started nationwide investigations 
into the hiring of foreign high-tech workers, including charges of visa 
fraud and allegations that the practice is riddled with abuse.'' The 
Chronicle quotes Bill Yates of the INS as stating, ``But are we 
catching most of the fraud? The truthful answer is that we are not. If 
it is the intention of the employee or the employer to defraud the 
government, you may not be able to ferret it out.''
  A just-released Government Accounting Office report states, ``There 
is not sufficient assurance that INS reviews are adequate for detecting 
program noncompliance or abuse. The program is vulnerable to abuse, 
both by employers who do not have bona fide jobs to fill or do not meet 
required labor conditions, and by potential workers who present false 

                              {time}  1845

  ``The goals of preventing abuse of the program and providing 
efficient services to employers and workers are not being achieved. 
Evidence suggests that program noncompliance or abuse by employers may 
be more prevalent than under other laws.''
  Mr. Speaker, any H-1B bill should contain effective antifraud 
measures as are contained in the Committee on the Judiciary-passed H.R. 
4227. S. 2045 contains no such antifraud measures.
  Mr. Speaker, in return for giving high-tech companies hundreds of 
thousands of more foreign workers, all we ask on behalf of American 
workers is some minimal, basic, common sense safeguards to ensure that 
businesses do not want to hire cheap foreign workers at the expense of 
American workers. While this bill has taken significant steps to 
alleviate the presumed shortage with more training for American 
workers, such provisions will not yield benefits for many years.
  Supplying future workers is a different issue altogether from 
shielding today's American workers from the consequences of admitting 
so many workers from other countries.
  Mr. Speaker, Congress should not turn its back on American workers.
  Again I appreciate and recognize the work done by the gentleman from 
California (Mr. Dreier) and by the gentleman from Utah (Mr. Cannon) and 
congratulate them.
  Mr. CONYERS. Mr. Speaker, I yield such time as she may consume to the 
gentlewoman from California (Ms. Lofgren), who worked harder on this 
measure than any other member of the Committee on the Judiciary.
  Ms. LOFGREN. Mr. Speaker, this is a very good bill that should become 
law. I am a little bit surprised that we are standing here tonight. We 
did not realize that the bill would be brought up this evening and 
actually when I learned that it would be, I was standing in line buying 
a new computer to replace my computer which had its memory burned out 
in a power surge recently. I was glad I was able to get into the car 
pool lanes and get here in time to talk about why this bill deserves 
our support.
  It was about a year ago that I began drafting some of the measures 
that ultimately found their way into the bill passed by the Senate last 
night. But I was not the only one on our side of the aisle who worked 
on this bill. A core group, including the gentleman from California 
(Mr. Dooley), the gentleman from Virginia (Mr. Moran), the gentlewoman 
from California (Ms. Eshoo), and the gentleman from Washington (Mr. 
Smith) really put in the extra effort as a drafting committee and 
certainly the gentleman from Michigan (Mr. Conyers), the ranking 
member, has been a leader in moving this forward along with the 
gentleman from

[[Page H8703]]

California (Mr. Matsui), and finally our hero in this on our side of 
the aisle, the gentleman from Missouri (Mr. Gephardt), the minority 
leader, who has been stalwart in his efforts to make sure that we would 
get a bill such as this passed.
  Mr. Speaker, I have to give the Senate credit. This bill is better 
than any of the other bills that have been put together, including the 
one we drafted, because it takes the best of so many measures and 
includes them all. It does things that are important in reforming the 
permanent side of the immigration system which is almost broken because 
of bureaucratic delay. It allows for portability of H-1B status as well 
as portability of I-140s and labor certifications. It does something 
about the per-country limits that would, absent a remedy, mean that 
scientists from certain Asian countries would be disadvantaged versus 
scientists from European countries. This fixes that problem. There is 
lots of good news in this bill, and we should all support it.
  There are, however, two things that are not in the bill that I think 
we need to fix. The first has been mentioned by the gentleman from 
Michigan (Mr. Conyers) and that has to do with the Central American 
refugee issue as well as the legalization era from the Reagan 
administration. We hoped that those two measures would become law this 
year as part of the Commerce-State-Justice bill. The President has 
threatened to veto the bill if these Latino fairness issues are not 
included, and 152 Democrats last week wrote a letter to the President 
saying he would sustain his veto if Latino fairness issues are not 
included in the Commerce-State-Justice bill. So we are sure that that 
is going to happen.
  The second issue is the fee issue that has already been mentioned. 
The Senate parliamentarian correctly ruled that the fee in the Senate 
bill was a revenue increase and therefore could not be initiated on the 
Senate side. I do not believe we should stop this process of moving the 
bill forward. We should pass this bill just as it is so we do not have 
to conference it. But that means we are going to have to include a fee 
in another measure, probably an appropriations bill that is moving 
forward. I am sure that we will get the support of our colleagues 
across the aisle to make sure that happens because there was broad 
bipartisan support for a fee that would fund education and training 
  I think that we have cleared the deck for approval of this bill. It 
is the best bill that has been considered yet. I would urge all of us 
to vote for it and to vote for it with some great degree of enthusiasm. 
As Alan Greenspan has pointed out, much of our economic prosperity is 
very much related to the Ph.D's who have come in from all around the 
world to come and be Americans with us. We are the better for that.
  Mr. CANNON. Mr. Speaker, I yield 2 minutes to the gentleman from 
California (Mr. Rohrabacher).
  Mr. ROHRABACHER. Mr. Speaker, I rise in strong opposition to this 
legislation. This legislation is nothing more than a betrayal of 
American working people. Why should we bring in 240,000 foreigners in 
order to depress the wages in the United States of America? That is 
exactly what we are talking about here.
  There are enough Americans to do these jobs. The only thing that is 
lacking is the pay levels and the training. So instead of requiring our 
companies to train people to do these high-tech jobs who are unemployed 
now, like laid-off aerospace industries, or to pay a little bit more 
money to attract our kids coming out of school, no, instead we are 
going to bring in 240,000 foreigners to keep wages low. In times of 
prosperity if you believe in free enterprise, that is when wages are 
supposed to go up. But if we bring in 240,000 foreigners to take these 
good, high-paying tech jobs, those high-paying jobs which are now 
$60,000 that should go to 70 or $80,000 will stay at that level.
  What this bill does is, number one, betray our own people who are out 
of work who need that training, need those jobs, that are 50 years old; 
but the Bill Gates billionaires of the world would rather bring in 
foreigners and not have to pay for the training and not have to pay 
perhaps for the health benefits of someone who is a lot younger. We 
should not be subsidizing these billionaire high-tech companies and 
these billionaires who have made money up in the Silicon Valley. They 
should pay their workers more money, they should train them and, yes, 
let us have an incentive for more of our young people to go into these 
high-tech companies and high-tech skill areas. If we keep wages low, 
our students are not going to be attracted to these high-tech areas. 
But if we let wages increase as the market would suggest, we will have 
our students go in that direction to try to get those jobs.
  For someone who believes in the market and supposedly the Republicans 
believe in the market, this bill is a betrayal of our principles but a 
betrayal of America's working people. Let us not bring in 240,000 
foreigners to take jobs that could be done by Americans if they had the 
training and the pay levels to get those jobs.
  Mr. CONYERS. Mr. Speaker, I yield 3 minutes to the gentleman from 
Virginia (Mr. Moran).
  Mr. MORAN of Virginia. Mr. Speaker, I want to thank the distinguished 
ranking member from Michigan, the gentleman from California (Mr. 
Dreier), the gentlewoman from California (Ms. Lofgren). A number of 
other of our colleagues have worked very hard on this legislation. It 
is good legislation. It is essential legislation. It benefits a great 
many industries critical to the health of our economy.
  But foremost among those sectors benefited is the high technology 
industry. The reason for that is that in the next few years the demand 
for skilled technology workers will mushroom worldwide. In the United 
States alone we will need 1.4 million more computer programmers, 
computer scientists and engineers by the year 2003. Today, 2.5 million 
workers work directly in the high technology industry; and while 
American firms dominate information technology markets worldwide, there 
are some 350,000 unfilled high technology jobs in the United States 
alone. To keep pace with demand each year for the next 10 years, the 
United States will have to train and hire an additional 130,000 
computer scientists, engineers, and systems analysts.
  And unlike many of those countries that are falling behind us, our 
strength is in our openness, openness to the flow of goods and services 
and capital and people. The warnings from the left and particularly 
from the right that more trade and immigration would throw native-born 
Americans out of work, destroy jobs and drive down wages have proven to 
be spectacularly wrong. I am looking for my friend from California, 
because our economic expansion has continued at the highest pace ever. 
That was the gentleman from California (Mr. Rohrabacher), certainly not 
the gentlewoman from California (Ms. Lofgren), who obviously 
understands the need.
  In the last decade trade and investment with and in the United States 
economy has reached record levels while the influx of legal immigrants 
has averaged close to a million per year. And yet contrary to all the 
isolationists' dire predictions, unemployment has fallen to a 30-year 
low, 22 million new jobs have been created, real wages have been rising 
all across the income scale, and the current economic expansion has 
just set a record as the longest in United States history.
  Until workforce training catches up to workforce demand, it is 
incumbent upon us to ensure that our employers have the ability to fill 
gaps in their workforce with qualified foreign national professionals. 
By allowing and encouraging the best and the brightest from around the 
globe to bring their knowledge and skills to the United States, and we 
are a Nation of immigrants, that is one of the reasons it is working so 
well, we can preserve our high-tech advantage over other countries 
while at the same time making sure that those same jobs do not move 
overseas. This is preventing those jobs from moving overseas.
  As we have heard, this legislation if enacted will ensure that 
Americans have the education skills and training to take these jobs if 
they choose to pursue the training opportunities that this bill will 
provide. The dedicated fees generated by this bill will ensure that 
current American workers can be retrained for high-tech, new economy 
jobs. That is why we need to support it.
  I thank the White House and the Democratic and Republican leadership.

[[Page H8704]]

 It is a fair and productive matter. Let us vote for it.
  Mr. CONYERS. Mr. Speaker, I yield 2 minutes to the gentleman from New 
York (Mr. Owens).
  (Mr. OWENS asked and was given permission to revise and extend his 
  Mr. OWENS. Mr. Speaker, the process is a betrayal. The process by 
which this important legislation has been brought to the floor is a 
betrayal of all of the reasonable Members of this House who are ready 
to move to meet an emergency. We understand that there is a great need 
for more workers to be brought in. We understand that there is a 
shortage, those figures are not rigged, that there is a shortage and it 
is mushrooming. We understand that we are going into a cyber-
civilization and brain power is very important and we cannot hesitate 
and slow down the process. We understand the need to do something.
  But why have it brought to the floor in the form of a suspension bill 
and not have it debated on the floor of the House fully and not allow 
amendments to be introduced which would be very useful for this 
process? What we are doing here is steamrolling through a cap. We will 
have a cap which amounts to almost 600,000 people over a 3-year period. 
600,000 people are going to be brought in without any further 
discussion of the process of creating brain power. We are going to let 
nations like India and China, et cetera, create or let their school 
systems fill this need for us because we are not willing to debate and 
really come to grips with the process that is needed to generate and 
develop this kind of brain power in our own country.
  We have a $230 billion surplus this year and all of the proposals for 
education have been milquetoast proposals. We are not coming to grips 
with the fact that we need to invest very heavily in infrastructure, 
very heavily in computers and equipment. In the area of immigration 
alone, we are overlooking a supply of manpower that is already here. 
There are large numbers of young people who come out of our high 
schools, they are undocumented, they come out of the high schools 
because they are allowed to go to public schools, but they cannot go to 
college and receive scholarships because they are undocumented. They 
have the brain power. I wanted to offer an amendment where they would 
be allowed special status, also. There are numerous amendments that 
were waiting to be attached to this bill to make it better, and we have 
violated the trust of the people who wanted to make this happen.

                              {time}  1900

  Mr. CANNON. Mr. Speaker, I yield myself such time as I may consume.
  Mr. Speaker, I just had a phone call from the president and CEO of 
Intel, Mr. Craig Barrett, whose view of this is that we can either 
import workers, or export jobs. I think that is really what this comes 
down to.
  Part of the criticism of this bill has come from people who believe 
that bringing in new workers would keep wages low. As a practical 
matter, these people that are coming in with high skills and high 
education are making the pie bigger. They are making us all wealthier. 
That is just the fundamental distinction between the sides here.
  I would like to speak for a moment about this new economy and what is 
going on here. We talk about the new economy, the Internet economy, the 
e-economy, and yet is there any part of our economy that is not 
affected by this?
  Consider, for instance, trucking. The first company in the country 
that adopted global satellite positioning for its trucks was from my 
district in Utah, England Trucking. Their profitability skyrocketed 
initially when they did that, but now every other trucking company in 
the country is using that technology. And what has happened? The cost 
of trucking has plummeted because of that technology. Their greatest 
problem is getting enough drivers these days.
  If you look at every other element of our economy, take farming, for 
instance. The price of a bushel of corn today is the same as it was 
essentially in 1950, unadjusted for inflation. That is because our 
farmers have been at the very cutting edge of technology.
  What we are doing with this bill is bringing in the people that will 
actually accelerate the rate at which we grow our economy and which we 
develop new technologies. The amazing thing is that the rate at which 
we are absorbing new technology is accelerating, and the rate at which 
we have opportunities to expand technology are accelerating.
  For instance, the Proteon project now, which is the application of 
the knowledge we have developed through the human genome project, is 
mammoth; and the opportunities for human health and other development 
from just that one issue alone are tremendous.
  So we do not have a dearth of jobs; we have a dearth of people to 
carry these great opportunities forward.
  Mr. Speaker, I reserve the balance of my time.
  Mr. CONYERS. Mr. Speaker, I yield 2 minutes to the gentleman from 
Texas (Mr. Doggett).
  Mr. DOGGETT. Mr. Speaker, I thank the gentleman for yielding me time.
  Mr. Speaker, in central Texas, workforce development is the number 
one, overriding high-tech issue. From the work that my office does with 
one technology company after another in helping get H-1B visas 
processed, I know that such visas represent one short-term answer to 
our needs.
  One reason that Austin, Texas prospers is by living the lyrics of 
that great Texan Lyle Lovett, who sings, ``Oh no, you're not from 
Texas, but Texas wants you anyway.'' We have attracted the best and 
brightest people from all over the world in part, through this H-1B 
program, to sustain our high-tech industries.
  A high-tech leader in Austin, only a couple of months ago, was 
telling me that his situation in not being able to get qualified people 
to do the jobs that needed to be filled yesterday is not unlike a steel 
mill that cannot get an adequate supply of iron ore.
  Because we have such a serious problem, with unemployment at an all-
time low, in being able to get needed workers, I joined with a 
bipartisan coalition back in March to increase the supply of visas and 
to reform the process by which they are provided. The gentlewoman from 
California (Ms. Lofgren) has been entirely too modest tonight. Without 
her determined leadership in forging a bipartisan coalition, we would 
not have secured H-1B legislation this year. My regret is that it is 
here in this fashion, and that so little has been done to address the 
other critical needs such as for modernizing immigration services with 
on-line filing and monitoring.
  I am here not because I think this is a good bill, but because it is 
the only bill that the House leadership will permit us to consider on 
this issue. To schedule this debate 3 hours after Members were told 
they could leave the Capitol because there would be no further votes, 
to schedule it in a way that limits the debate time to a few minutes, 
to deny all perfecting amendments, is all too typical of the way this 
House has operated this year under the Republican leadership. But after 
months of inaction on much a critical high tech issue, this unfortunate 
approach shortchanges both this House and our high-tech industry.
  In what will hopefully be a much better Congress next year, I will 
continue seeking more comprehensive legislation to reform the visa 
process and to create a separate ``tech visa.'' At the same time we 
must also make much more effective use of visa fee revenue to develop 
the skills of young Americans to fill future tech job openings so that 
even more of our neighbors can share our economic success.
  Mr. CONYERS. Mr. Speaker, I yield 2 minutes to the gentleman from 
Washington (Mr. Smith).
  Mr. SMITH of Washington. Mr. Speaker, I rise in support of this bill. 
I particularly want to thank the gentlewoman from California (Ms. 
Lofgren) for her outstanding leadership on this issue. She has been 
working a long time at it and has done a tremendous job, and this is 
very important to the future of our economy.
  I too regret a little bit the way this bill has come to the floor, 
but it is still a critical issue if we are going to move forward with 
the high-tech economy and keep our economy moving.
  We all know that the long-term solution to the skills gap we have in 
this country is not going to be immigrants from other countries. The 

[[Page H8705]]

solution definitely involves improving our education system, and we are 
working to do that and we must work to do that. But in the short-term 
it is to our country's advantage to go out and take the best and 
brightest from the rest of the world and bring them to the U.S. to help 
grow our economy.
  I guess the strongest disagreement I have with the opponents of this 
legislation is their claim that it is going to cost us jobs. It is 
going to create jobs. In the Seattle-Puget Sound corridor, every high-
tech job has an incredible multiplier effect. It creates jobs. Bringing 
in people who can fill these jobs is going to allow not just the 
Microsofts and the Boeings, but hundreds, if not thousands, of small 
companies in my district and my region to grow, by getting the skilled 
workers they need to enable them to continue to compete in our global 
economy and grow and actually create jobs.
  It is in our best interest to bring the best and the brightest from 
the rest of the world here to help our economy. That is the competitive 
and wise thing to do.
  This bill moves us in the right direction. There are many other 
immigration issues that need to be addressed. The gentlewoman from 
California (Ms. Lofgren) once again has been an outstanding leader on 
all of those issues. We should address them, and we will work on them. 
But expanding the number of skilled workers that our businesses in this 
country have access to is the most critical issue facing business.
  Every business I go to, when I ask them what issues are most 
important to them, they always tell me the same thing: workforce. ``We 
can't get the people we need to grow to the level that we could be 
growing if we had those employees.''
  This is a critical issue. I urge this House to pass this. It is not a 
perfect process. Nobody ever said Congress was a perfect process. But 
it is a good bill that we should support.
  Mr. CANNON. Mr. Speaker, I yield the balance of my time to the 
gentleman from California (Mr. Dreier) to close. Let me point out that 
the gentleman from California (Mr. Dreier) has been the fire and the 
work behind the bill in getting it to this point.
  The SPEAKER pro tempore (Mr. Ose). The gentleman from California is 
recognized for 5 minutes.
  Mr. DREIER. Mr. Speaker, in less than 2 hours millions of Americans 
are going to be watching what will certainly be a very exciting and 
stimulating debate that will take place between Governor Bush and Vice 
President Gore. It is going to be a very partisan debate, and that is 
why I am happy that we in the House of Representatives just 2 hours 
before that debate are able to participate in a very important 
bipartisan effort here. It is one, as my friend, the gentlewoman from 
California (Ms. Lofgren), said, that began over a year ago. And, yes, 
it was about a year ago that we began working together on this issue.
  I want to say, first of all, that the chairman of the Subcommittee on 
Immigration and Claims (Mr. Smith), has been extremely helpful in 
moving this process ahead, and there are a litany of people on our side 
who have always worked very hard on this: the gentleman from Utah (Mr. 
Cannon), who is managing this bill now; the gentleman from California 
(Mr. Cox); the gentleman from Virginia (Mr. Davis); the gentleman from 
Virginia (Mr. Goodlatte); and the gentleman from Michigan (Mr. Ehlers), 
who has the very important component which really has not been 
mentioned a lot, and that is the issue of education, his focus on math 
and science education, which will create a scenario where we do not 
have to rely on H-1B visas for these jobs to be filled in the United 
  That is the long-term solution. I should say that is why my 
colleague, the gentleman from Massachusetts (Mr. Moakley), the ranking 
minority member of the Committee on Rules, and I have joined just a 
little while ago in introducing H.R. 5362, which takes the very 
important component in our legislation which is designed to increase 
the fee from $500 to $1,000. Why? So that we can have the resources 
necessary to address these very important issues which the gentleman 
from Michigan (Mr. Ehlers) has focused on.
  Now, let me say that, again, this has been a bipartisan effort, and I 
want to express my appreciation to the gentlewoman from California (Ms. 
Lofgren). We have gone through some bumpy times on this issue; but we 
have come, again, to accept this very, very great piece of legislation 
that our colleagues in the Senate by a vote of 96 to 1 have passed.
  Also there are other people on the other side of the aisle who have 
worked hard on this, including the gentleman from Virginia (Mr. Moran); 
my colleague, the gentleman from California (Mr. Dooley); and the 
gentleman from Washington (Mr. Smith), who just spoke very eloquently 
about the fact that we will be creating jobs right here in the United 
States by increasing the number of H-1B visas.
  Today there are about 300,000 jobs that need to be filled, and those 
jobs have not been filled. Why? Because we do not have the expertise 
here in the United States to do that. Now, what is it that can allow us 
to fill them? To make sure that we break down barriers and allow that 
expertise, regardless of where it is in the world, to be right here in 
the United States.
  The gentleman from Utah (Mr. Cannon) just quoted the chairman of 
Intel, Craig Barrett, who said very appropriately that we can either 
choose to import workers, or export jobs. The fact is there are 
countries in the world today that would very much like us to see not 
only the jobs, but actually the bases for these operations, the 
headquarters, to move to Singapore, Ireland or other spots in the 
world. We need to do everything we can to break down government 
barriers, so that we can make sure that that expertise is here.
  Now, a number of people have mentioned the fact that we have seen 
tremendous strides in the area of biotechnology. The gentleman from 
Utah (Mr. Cannon) just spoke eloquently about the genome project. When 
you look at the fact that we want to cure a wide range of diseases that 
are out there, Alzheimer's, Parkinson's, cancer, heart disease, we need 
to make sure that we continue with innovation. That is why the 
pharmaceutical industry, which I know has been criticized in this 
presidential debate, is very key. They have to have the expertise 
available to do this. Also in the technology sector, again, that ripple 
effect which the gentleman from Washington (Mr. Smith) mentioned is so 
key, because jobs will be created right here.
  What we have is a situation where we are relying on people and brain 
power, not steel and machines. That is the wave of the future. So for 
us to break down a governmental barrier is the best thing for us. That 
is why, Mr. Speaker, I am very proud that we are going to move forward 
in doing the right thing.
  The gentleman from Illinois (Speaker Hastert) and the gentleman from 
Texas (Mr. Armey), our majority leader, have worked long and hard and 
have been very supportive of this. I am pleased that having gone 
through this challenging time, that we have come together in a 
bipartisan way.
  I hope that we can overwhelmingly pass this, take this language, send 
it down to the President for his signature, and improve the quality of 
life for the people in the United States and around the world, and 
increase the number of American jobs right here for Americans.
  Mr. DAVIS of Virginia. Mr. Speaker, I rise to support S. 2045, the 
American Competitiveness in the Twenty-First Century Act of 2000.
  In the summer of 1999, the House Judiciary Subcommittee on 
Immigration and Claims held hearings to investigate the workforce 
shortage affecting America's high-tech industry. The high-tech 
industry's explosion in the U.S. has created over 1 million jobs since 
1993 and has produced an industry unemployment rate of 1.4 percent. As 
a result, our nation's economy has soared and the American people are 
enjoying the highest standard of living in history.
  However, the United States' computer and information technology 
industry does not have access to growing numbers of highly skilled 
personnel. Lack of skilled workers threatens our nation's ability to 
maintain robust economic growth and expanding opportunities. The H-1B 
visa program allows foreign professionals to enter and work 
``temporarily'' in the U.S. There are currently over 364,000 unfilled 
positions in the high-tech industry. In Northern Virginia alone, there 
are 28,000 openings. The Department of Labor projects that this deficit 
will increase by 1 million workers in the next decade. At the present 
time, the annual limit for granting H-1B visas is 115,000, which was 
reached in March, 2000.

[[Page H8706]]

  America needs to sustain its position as the world leader in the 
information technology industry. The critical need for highly-skilled 
information technology workers demands that we take action now to 
ensure our continued strength in light of today's global economy. There 
is no question that we need to educate our children and retrain our 
current workers to fulfill the demands of an IT workplace. But these 
are long-term challenges that we are attempting to address in this 
legislation and through education programs and IT training tax 
incentives, among others.
  We must ease the short-term skilled worker shortage that is a 
function of a booming industry that has increased employment and 
contributed to a growing budget surplus. And we need to do so by 
increasing American companies' access to the best-educated and best-
trained minds if we are to maintain our position as the leader of the 
Information Age. Indeed, many of these workers are trained in American 
universities. Yet we send them back home to use those skills on behalf 
of our competitors. Let us keep these minds within America's borders 
for the benefit of American citizens.
  There have been concerns expressed that companies want foreign 
skilled workers in order to avoid paying American citizens' higher 
wages to do the same job. However, temporary employees are not paid any 
less than their counterparts. In fact, I find it difficult to believe 
that a company would endure the time-consuming process and cost of 
attracting a foreign worker instead of hiring home-grown talent.
  As an original sponsor of the Dreier-Lofgren HI-TECH Act, I am very 
pleased that we are moving quickly to pass the H-1B legislation 
approved by the other body. I am a firm believer in the market system. 
Here, the information technology industry is experiencing a shortage of 
highly-trained and skilled workers, forcing them to look abroad for 
such trained professionals. With this legislation, we can be certain 
that as we shift the focus of our early educational efforts to 
fulfilling the demands of an Information Economy, that in the meantime, 
the best and brightest minds will guide America into the new 
millennium. For these reasons, I urge all of my colleagues to vote in 
favor of S. 2045.
  The SPEAKER pro tempore. The question is on the motion offered by the 
gentleman from Utah (Mr. Cannon) that the House suspend the rules and 
pass the Senate bill, S. 2045, as amended.
  The question was taken; and (two-thirds having voted in favor 
thereof) the rules were suspended and the Senate bill, as amended, was 
  A motion to reconsider was laid on the table.