Startup Act 2.0: House lawmakers introduce Senators’ immigration reform bill
By J.D. Harrison,
One week after Senators from both sides of the aisle unveiled a new immigration reform and job creation measure, Republicans and Democrats have again linked up to introduce the same bill in the House.
Startup Act 2.0 would allow immigrants who obtain graduate degrees in science, technology, engineering and math to stay and work in the country; reform made necessary, proponents say, by demand for those degrees that is outpacing the supply of graduates from American universities. The bill would also create a new category of visa for immigrants who start companies and hire workers in the United States.
Republicans Michael Grimm (N.Y.), Kevin Yoder (Kan.), Devin Nunes (R-Calif.) and Robert Dold (Ill.) teamed with Democrats Loretta Sanchez (Calif.), Russ Carnahan (Mo.) and Jared Polis (Colo.) to bring the bill into the House on Wednesday. A bipartisan group of lawmakers already introduced the measure in the Senate.
“US immigration policy should help, not hurt, the ability of US companies to attract top talent,” Sanchez said in a statement. “As our economy continues to recover, we must further enable our entrepreneurs to grow and to create jobs.”
A similar bill failed earlier this year amid concerns that such reform would allow foreign-born graduates to flood the job market and exacerbate the country’s unemployment woes.
However, on the other side of debate, immigration reform advocates point to new research showing that American universities are not churning out nearly enough STEM graduates to meet the demand of American businesses. Currently, the number of job openings requiring those degrees is increasing at three times the rate of the rest of the job market, yet science and math departments are still struggling to attract new college majors, according to the National Science Foundation.
But not when it comes to foreign-born graduate students, 60 percent of whom were studying science and engineering in 2010. However, under the current laws, many of them will likely be forced to return to their home countries after graduation.
“Too often we educate the world’s best and brightest in STEM fields, only to send them back to countries like India and China to open businesses and compete against us,” Grimm said. “This bill will keep top talent here in the U.S. to open businesses that hire Americans, and drive U.S. innovation and competitiveness.”
Startup Act 2.0’s other provisions would make certain investments in young companies permanently exempt from capital gains taxes and create a research and development tax credit for firms less than five years old that bring in less than $5 million in annual revenue.
The proposal comes at a time when bipartisan collaboration has become especially rare on the Hill; however, the bill’s Senate sponsors pointed to the recent passage of the JOBS Act as evidence that Congress can still rally around this type of legislation during an election year.
“Now is the time to act — not after the election, not next year,” Senators Jerry Moran (R-Kan.), Mark Warner (D-Va.), Marco Rubio (R-Fla.), Chris Coons (D-Del.), Scott Brown (R-Mass.) and Roy Blunt (R-Mo.) said in a joint statement on Wednesday. “Other countries are not taking this year off. Neither should we. These are bipartisan ideas with bicameral support — it’s time for Washington to come together to pass Startup Act 2.0, strengthen the economy, and create jobs.”