On Thursday, the House voted on H.R. 6429, the STEM Jobs Act, which eliminates the Diversity Visa program in order to create a new visa program for foreign students graduating with advanced degrees in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) from U.S. research universities. The Diversity Visa program provides 50,000 visas for individuals from different countries.
Congresswoman Colleen Hanabusa (HI-01) voted against the measure.
The GOP bill would eliminate a roll-over provision that allows unused visas in a certain category to be rolled over to another category, to prevent the visas from going to waste. The measure also allows students who have earned degrees from for-profit universities, online, or by mail to participate in the STEM visa program.
"The United States is known as the land of opportunity for good reason. Our universities attract foreign individuals from all over the world, and many of them go on to make substantial contributions to our communities and our economy. While I undoubtedly support a visa program targeted at students excelling in STEM programs, we should not be eliminating the Diversity Visa program which ensures people from countries that have low rates of immigration to the U.S. have the same opportunity to pursue their dreams here.
"That's why I became a cosponsor of the Attracting the Best and Brightest Act of 2012, which creates a new visa program for our foreign STEM students without axing a critical pathway to legal immigration ," said Hanabusa.
The Attracting the Best and Brightest Act of 2012 (H.R. 6412) -- creates a new visa program for foreign graduates of U.S. universities with advanced STEM degrees without eliminating the Diversity Visa program. The Democratic bill also has an additional worker protection provision which requires the offered wages to these foreign STEM graduates do not undercut the actual wages paid to U.S. workers with similar levels of experience.
Because a two-thirds majority is required, H.R. 6429 failed by a vote of 257 to 158.