GRASSLEY: I wanted to tell you something that Senator Durbin and
I'm doing. We're introducing legislation to reform H-1B immigration
and L visa programs. H-1B would be more manager and technical people.
L visa is kind of along the lines of where people can come and go from
our country because whatever country they're coming from, they've
probably got a lot of operations in this country. They're more kind
of an executive sort of position, I believe.
And the reason for our bill is we want to root out fraud and
abuse. We want to ensure that Americans are given every consideration
when applying for jobs. The H-1B program was never meant as a
replacement for qualified American workers. It was meant to
complement American workers. It's time that we get back to the
original intent of the program.
Our legislation will help do that. This legislation works to
close loopholes employers are exploiting by requiring them to be more
transparent about their hiring. And we ensure that there is more
oversight of the H-1B program so that we get rid of the fraud and
I understand the H-1B program is important to several companies.
I want every company that can't get American workers to get workers
from wherever they can get them, but that doesn't mean that qualified
Americans should be laid off just so that they can hire cheaper H-1B
Until we make a conscious effort to deal with the fraud and abuse
within the H-1B program, it will continue to be a problem. And not
knowing specifically the details in my mind, but let me add this to
you that you -- that the Iowa press may want to do some looking into.
But I saw headlines, and I think I read the stories in three or four
One was some small operation of H-1B employees in Coon Rapids,
and another one that was a little larger operation in Clinton, Iowa
that people connected with these firms are under prosecution.
Exactly, I'm not sure -- I suppose just plain, old immigration abuse
problems, but I don't know all of those details now that I've read
that maybe six weeks ago. So you may want to keep that in mind as you
consider our legislation.
I'm going to start with Tom Beaumont.
QUESTION: Senator Grassley, we've got President Obama here today
talking about his energy proposal and urging a bill that move through
the Congress. What's your position on the Obama administration's
energy policy which is the cap-and-trade plus the $15 billion in
annual appropriations for R&D and stuff like that?
GRASSLEY: OK. I'm going to answer that as two questions, not as
Cap-and-trade and global warming issues, my judgment is needs to
be handled by international treaty because pollution knows -- respects
no political boundaries. China is the number one emitter of CO2.
They should be under the same obligations to clean up as the United
If we just do it by ourselves, we're going to lose a lot of
manufacturing jobs to China. We should have a level playing field.
We shouldn't hurt our own industry only the extent to which
everybody's contributing to the reduction of pollution. And China is
the number one emitter of CO2.
And then on the other issue of alternative energy, obviously,
he's visiting a wind energy component manufacturer, and none of this
wind energy would be in Iowa, none of this industry would be coming to
Iowa if we hadn't had the wind energy tax credit that I was the
sponsor of back in 1992, I believe, when it became law and, also, been
a promoter of a longer term renewals.
And it is the basis and the foundation for the wind energy that
we have in the country as a whole but, particularly, in Iowa because
we're first or second in wind energy production. And then, of course,
those component manufacturers are coming.
GRASSLEY: I would also applaud Governor Culver because since
he's been governor, he's built on the wind energy program that I got
started here in Congress with state help through what I think he calls
the Power Program or something like that. And he's also been quite an
ambassador for wind energy.
So I think we have a good federal-state component of policy to
promote wind energy. And then to answer your question about President
Clinton -- or President Obama, everything that he is doing now in
regard to pushing not just wind energy or but all alternative energy,
I'm going to be a full supporter of that.
QUESTION: And when you say "full supporter," you know, he's
talking about, on top of everything else that the government is
spending, you know, $15 billion -- an estimated $15 billion for 10
years for the -- for an energy bill. Are you -- can -- can that be
GRASSLEY: Well, the answer is probably yes because, often --
we've always had some support for alternative energy through the
Department of Energy. You know, this is kind of the quandary -- I am
not avoiding answering your question, but when somebody says we are
going to have an alternative energy program, then this brings me back
to, well, where have these -- what planet have these people been
living on for the last 30 years.
Ethanol is 30 years old. Wind energy is 15 years old. There's
been solar programs for a long period of time. There's been biomass
programs for a long period of time. We have a massive energy program
in Iowa -- or, I mean, in the nation as a whole right now.
The only thing that I can think of why they keep coming up we
need an alternative energy program or we need an energy program is
that it's been done in a piecemeal fashion over 30 years, that nobody
really sees it as a program. They obviously recognize it as separate
programs, but it adds up to an energy -- alternative energy program.
And how is it developed? It's all developed through -- through
-- it's all developed through these tax incentives. And it developed
into a very strong one.
Now, are there things we can do beyond that? Yes. Some money
that I'm sure he's got in his energy program but I don't know to what
extent it is of the $15 billion, but we've got kind of a -- how would
you say it -- kind of a stone wall right now in regard to getting rid
of our wind energy electricity. We're not using our capacity to the
So we need transmissions grids. And that's going to be a part of
it. And then that will break down to stone wall that we have
separating us from getting -- generating more wind entering and making
use of it because, now, you shut it down. If it's not used in Iowa
and other parts of the Midwest, you know, it just -- you just don't
So then you -- you get this grid. And we're going to be able to
make more efficient use of our wind energy and things of that nature.
So I'm not opposed to the $15 billion, but, you know, I'm going
to be looking at what it's used for. And I don't think it should be
used as an excuse for duplicating what we've already been doing for 30
QUESTION: Thank you.
GRASSLEY: Mike Myers?
QUESTION: Senator, you voted against the Sebelius nomination in
finance. Will you support a filibuster against this nomination or
will you actually vote for the nomination on the floor?
GRASSLEY: I won't support a filibuster, and I won't vote for it
on the floor. It's going to move ahead. And if she gets 51 votes,
she is our nominee. It's mostly the abortion issue. Not just
abortion per se, but sympathy that she shows for late-term abortions
because of the abortion doctor that she has had a close affiliation
with there in Kansas.
And I think it's -- I think it would be wrong to assume that
you're going to vote against her just philosophically on the basis of
abortion because out of this administration, we're not going to a pro-
life person in this position or probably in any position.
QUESTION: What do you think of that round table discussion in
finance? Is that kind of laying the ground for census -- or is it
worthwhile to have that type of discussion?
GRASSLEY: Much more worthwhile than a hearing. Senator Baucus
and I had our weekly meeting, reviewed, discussed it. I think he
thought it was a good thing. Maybe he was waiting for me to say it
was a good thing. I applauded it.
And we're going to have at least two more and maybe three more on
other subsets. The one yesterday was on delivery system. We've got
coverage coming up. We've got financing coming up. And I think those
are the only two that are scheduled, but there could be some more.
QUESTION: Are you already racing against the clock, so to speak,
sir? I mean, we've got a break coming up here in May and another in
GRASSLEY: We have to race against the clock. We have to get
this bill done in June, or it's not going to be on the floor in July.
And then you've heard what I said. I wouldn't want to say it couldn't
be done in the fall, but, you know, my rule of thumb over several
presidencies, if something isn't done in the first 9 months of a
presidency, it doesn't have to be done.
So I'm shooting to get this done during the summer because next
year is an election year. The third year is the beginning of a
presidential reelection. And, you know, things don't happen then. So
I think it's very important to speed it up. I'm very positive about
Now, maybe a month from now, you'll be interviewing me. I may be
pessimistic. But, you know, I'm very positive, and I have been
positive for the last four months.
QUESTION: Thank you.
GRASSLEY: Mike Glover?
QUESTION: I'm good today, Senator. Thank you.
GRASSLEY: Mary Rae?
QUESTION: Nothing today, sir. Thank you.
GRASSLEY: All right.
Jens with the Waterloo Courier?
QUESTION: Yes. Senator, do you have any reaction to the
apparent suicide of the Freddie Mac CFO?
GRASSLEY: Oh, I think we all ought to have a negative reaction
to any suicide. And from that standpoint, we can't do anything but
have sympathy for the family. And I don't think anything beyond the
family. And I don't have the slightest reason, and maybe nobody
knows, for the purpose of it.
But you've just got to have sympathy for the family.
I've gone through the list. Maybe somebody was added after we
circled named here on a long list that we had? Is there anybody that
wants to jump in?
OK. Thank you all very much.