The legislation, sponsored by House Judiciary Chairman Lamar Smith, would create a new green card category for foreigners who have received doctorate degrees from U.S. universities in science, technology, engineering and math (the so-called STEM disciplines). Green cards not used by PhDs would be available to those with STEM master's degrees.
The idea that the government should "staple a green card to the diplomas" of foreign students who have earned an advanced degree at a U.S. university has been a favorite talking point of both Democrats and Republicans for years.
Next week's vote gives Republicans the chance to support a fairly non-controversial piece of immigration legislation on an issue where Democrats have tried to claim the high ground.
Congressional Democrats and the White House are urging companies not to support the bill, arguing they've not had enough time to review it, Republicans say.
"The fact of the matter is that politically, Democrats don't want to give a Republican Congress a win on immigration reform, especially when it comes to high-tech," said a GOP tech lobbyist who attended the meeting. "I think you're going to see anywhere from very strong letters of support to softer tones, 'Thank you for taking up this debate.' I think you're going to see a pretty considerable amount of support for it."
Tech companies have been clamoring for STEM visas for years. The move comes as the traditionally Democratic leaning tech industry has begun more aggressively building relationships with top Republicans and holding Silicon Valley fundraisers for them.
The K Streeters attending this morning's meeting include: Facebook's Joel Kaplan, ITIC's Andy Halataei, Lugar Hellman Group's Ralph Hellmann, CEA's Veronica O'Connell, U.S. Chamber's Ron Eidshaug and Jeff Lungren, NAM's Joe Trauger, BSA's Katherine McGuire, Microsoft's Fred Humphries, Yahoo's Margaret Nagle, Cisco's Paul Redifer, Texas Instruments' Paula Collins, SIA's Patrick Wilson, Engine Advocacy's Ryan Triplette, Oracle's Jason Mahler, SIA's Patrick Wilson, Bloomberg's Carl Thorsen and Qualcomm's Alice Tornquist.
Correction: This post has been updated to reflect that Ralph Hellmann is with the Lugar Hellmann Group. The Alley regrets the error.
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