Gov. Wilson Tells Clinton to Sign H1B Bill

(August 26, 1998)  California Governor Pete Wilson wrote a letter to President Clinton on Monday to urge that he stop threatening "to veto the latest Congressional legislation (HR 3736) to increase the cap on the number of highly skilled-foreign workers admitted into the United States under the H-1B temporary visa program."

This H1B bill would increase the annual cap on temporary visas for foreign born high tech workers.  The current annual limit of 65,000 was exhausted on May 8.  High-tech Silicon Valley companies desperate to hire skilled computer professionals have clamored for reform.

See also, Summary of H1B Bills.

The Senate bill, the "American Competitiveness Act," S 1723, sponsored by Sen. Spencer Abraham (R-MI), passed by a 78-20 vote on May 18.  The House bill, HR 3736, the "Workforce Improvement and Protection Act of 1998," sponsored by Rep. Lamar Smith (R-TX), has been reported by the House Judiciary Committee, but has not yet been voted on by the full House.

On July 23 House and Senate leaders negotiated a compromise.  However, neither the House nor the Senate has not voted on this bill, because President Clinton has threatened to veto it.

Gov. Wilson's two page letter argued that a failure to pass the H1B bill would have harmful economic consequences.  He wrote:

"As you know, the current H-1B visa cap was reached in May, several months before the end of the current fiscal year. The failure on the part of the federal government to increase the current cap to address the high demand for skilled workers has thwarted the growth of the high technology industry, both in California and throughout the nation.   While the results of this work shortage are yet to be realized, clearly it will be particularly detrimental to California and a state economy whose strength and future competitiveness are directly linked to the high technology industry."

Gov. Wilson also accused Clinton of selling out to big labor.  "Your veto would undermine all we are doing in California. Moreover, it would jeopardize our economic security for no apparent reason other than that of placating the short-sighted, protectionist demands of organized labor pressure groups."

Gov. Wilson concluded: "Accordingly, I strongly urge your support for this critical legislation. Continued delay in its enactment will only slow the economic growth and competitiveness of California. Your veto would be interpreted as nothing less than a betrayal of your oft-stated support of our high-tech industry."

Both the House and Senate are away on the August recess.


Related Stories
Senate Holds H1B Visa Hearing, 2/25/98.
Sen. Abraham Introduces H1B Bill, 3/7/98.
GAO Questions IT Worker Shortage, 3/25/98.
Kennedy/Feinstein Introduce H1B Bill, 3/27/98.
Bills: Abraham v. Kennedy/Feinstein, 3/30/98.
H1B Bill Passes Senate Committee, 4/2/98.
H1B Bills Advance in Congress, 5/21/98.
Congressional Leaders Reach Agreement, 7/25/98.
H1B Visa Bills Stall In Congress, 8/12/98.