Today in the House of Representatives, the STEM Jobs Act failed to pass. The final score was 257-158, a vote that included 30 Democrats voting with the Republican majority on the act.
How did the bill fail, given that vote? The Hill, take it away:
Although Republicans won a majority vote, the bill was voted on under suspension of the rules and failed to secure the two-thirds support needed to pass the House
In a statement following the defeat, Rep. Lamar Smith, the bill’s architect, snipped at the minority party of the House for successfully bringing it down: “Unfortunately, Democrats today voted to send the best and brightest foreign graduates back home to work for our global competitors.”
Is that the case? Yes, but it’s a very confused look at what happened. There is a bill quite similar to what Rep. Smith put forward in both the House and Senate, with a single critical change: those twin bills don’t end the green card visa. Rep. Smith’s bill would have.
This made it a moot point, I suspect, in the Democratically controlled Senate and on the President’s desk. Happily, the STEM portion of what the Democrats have put forward is quite similar to what Rep. Smith has proposed. Thus, there may be a chance for progress.
Following the vote, Rep. Lofgren said the following:
It’s important we didn’t do a mistake, which is what this bill was. [...] It’s disappointing because we could come together and do something we all want to accomplish, which is to get more STEM visas. [...] I think we’re really well positioned to move forward if we can get the other side to actually sit down and work these things out, so in a way I’m optimistic if anything else.”
For more on why Rep. Smith’s complaints are a bit on the obtuse side, head here.
In short, the only point that is keeping 55,000 new STEM visas from being issued yearly, which both parties desire, is the addition of the removal of the green card lottery, something that is unrelated to the STEM issue and only a small percentage of the total legal immigration flow into the country.
Still, don’t hold your breath.
Top Image Credit: Andrew Malone