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Public Statements

STEM Jobs Act of 2012

Floor Speech

By:
Date:
Location: Washington, DC

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Mr. GEORGE MILLER of California. I thank the gentleman for yielding.

Mr. Speaker, I rise in opposition to this partisan bill. It's unfortunate. Maintaining this country's advantage in science and technology is an important issue, and it should not be a partisan issue. Democrats have long supported efforts to increase STEM careers in this country and to address the question of STEM visas.

We all recognize how important these careers are to the future economic strength of this country. We could be working together in a bipartisan way to address these issues in a fair and thoughtful manner, but this bill does not do that. Instead of working together, the majority has chosen a partisan route.

This route puts American workers' wages at risk at a time when they can ill afford it. It allows a dangerous race to the bottom that will drive wages down for American workers. It allows employers to pay visa holders less than the actual wages paid to similarly situated workers at those employers. A U.S. worker and a visa holder could be working right next to one another, doing the same work, and the foreign worker is cheaper. We know what this will mean for U.S. workers' pay and job opportunities. Depressing families' wages is not what our country needs. That's why I joined with Congresswoman Lofgren on legislation that would require a visa holder to be paid at least the actual wage being paid to a U.S. worker with similar experience.

I also have deep concerns that this partisan bill is also a payoff for predatory for-profit education institutions. The Republican bill includes language that specifically allows for-profit institutions to participate in this program. Why is that? Tech and other high-skilled employers have not been pushing to get more foreign graduates from for-profit schools. This provision would allow these institutions to find new, potentially lucrative revenue streams for their shareholders without regard to the actual needs of the American labor market.

Mr. Speaker, the American people have made it clear that they are fed up with the powerful special interests gaming the system to increase their bottom line. They are fed up with partisan exercises meant to gain political advantage during an election cycle. It is no surprise that for 2 years this Congress had an opportunity to have a full and open debate on this very important issue but that the Republicans have chosen partisanship, obstruction, and polarization over moving this country forward. That's why we see this bill at the last minute, and that's why we see this bill requiring a two-thirds vote.

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