H1B Bills Advance in Congress

(May 21, 1998)  The American Competitiveness Act (S 1723) passed the Senate by a 78-20 vote on Monday, while the House version of the bill (HR 3736) passed the House Judiciary Committee by a 24-7 vote on Wednesday.  The House bill includes protections for American workers, which are favored by the Labor Department and Clinton, but which are not included in the Senate bill.

S. 1723 addresses the shortage of skilled professionals in high tech computer fields.  It would amend the Immigration and Nationality Act, 8 USC 1101 et. seq., by increasing the annual cap on H1B visas.  The bill also creates a new H1C class of workers, reforms the rules governing the granting of visas, and reforms the "prevailing wage" considerations.  In addition, the bill would relax the per country limitation on H1B visas in some situtaitons.  Finally, the bill amends 20 USC 1070c by creating a scholarship program for full time students working towards an undergraduate or post graduate degree in either math, engineering, or computer science.

Related Stories

Senate Holds H1B Visa Hearing, 2/25/98.
Sen. Abraham Introduces H1B Reform Bill, 3/7/98.
GAO Questions IT Worker Shortage, 3/25/98.
Kennedy & Feinstein Introduce H1B Bill, 3/27/98.
Comparison of H1B Bills: Abraham v. Kennedy/Feinstein, 3/30/98.
H1B Bill Passes Senate Judiciary Committee, 4/2/98.

There is now a 65,000 annual cap on H1B visas, which go to aliens "temporarily to the U.S. to perform services ... in a specialty occupation ... that requires theoretical and practical application of a body of highly specialized knowledge and attainment of a bachelor's or higher degree in that specialty."  Now, many of the H1B visas go to high tech professionals and health care professionals, especially physical therapists.   The Senate bill would increase high tech visas as follows:

Thus, there is a potential increase of 60,000 visas going to computer industry professionals.

Senate Vote on S 1723, May 18, 1998

YEAs 78
Abraham (MI)
Allard (CO)
Ashcroft (MO)
Baucus (MT)
Bennett (UT)
Bingaman (NM)
Bond (MO)
Boxer (CA)
Breaux (LA)
Brownback (KS)
Bryan (NV)
Burns (MT)
Campbell (CO)
Chafee (RI)
Cleland (GA)
Coats (IN)
Cochran (MS)
Collins (ME)
Conrad (ND)
Coverdell (GA)
Craig (ID)
Daschle (SD)
DeWine (OH)
Dodd (CT)
Domenici (NM)
Dorgan (ND)
Enzi (WY)
Feinstein (CA)
Ford (KY)
Frist (TN)
Gorton (WA)
Graham (FL)
Gramm (TX)
Grams (MN)
Grassley (IA)
Gregg (NH)
Hagel (NE)
Hatch (UT)
Helms (NC)
Hollings (SC)
Hutchison (TX)
Inhofe (OK)
Inouye (HI)
Jeffords (VT)
Johnson (SD)
Kempthorne (ID)
Kerrey (NE)
Kohl (WI)
Kyl (AZ)
Landrieu (LA)
Lautenberg (NJ)
Leahy (VT)
Lieberman (CT)Lott (MS)
Lugar (IN)
Mack (FL)
McCain (AZ)
McConnell (KY)
Murkowski (AK)
Murray (WA)
Nickles (OK)
Reed (RI)
Reid (NV)
Robb (VA)
Roberts (KS)
Roth (DE)
Santorum (PA)
Sessions (AL)
Shelby (AL)
Smith (NH)
Smith (OR)
Snowe (ME)
Specter (PA)
Stevens (AK)<>
Thompson (TN)
Thurmond (SC)
Warner (VA)
Wyden (OR)
NAYs 20
Akaka (HI)
Biden (DE)
Bumpers (AR)
Byrd (WV)
Durbin (IL)
Feingold (WI)
Glenn (OH)
Harkin (IA)
Hutchinson (AR)
Kennedy (MA)
Kerry (MA)
Levin (MI)
Mikulski (MD)
Moseley-Braun (IL)
Moynihan (NY)
Rockefeller (WV)
Sarbanes (MD)
Thomas (WY)
Torricelli (NJ)
Wellstone (MN)
Not Voting 2
D'Amato (NY) Faircloth (NC)