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[Congressional Record: September 15, 2000 (Senate)]
[Page S8626-S8627]
From the Congressional Record Online via GPO Access [wais.access.gpo.gov]
[DOCID:cr15se00-24]                         



 
        AMERICAN COMPETITIVENESS IN THE TWENTY-FIRST CENTURY ACT

  Mr. HATCH. Mr. President, I rise this afternoon to implore my 
colleagues to work with me in moving the American Competitiveness in 
the Twenty-first Century Act, S. 2045, toward enactment.
  One of our greatest priorities is--and ought to be--keeping our 
economy vibrant, and expanding educational opportunities for America's 
children and its workers.
  That is my priority for this country and that is my priority for my 
home State of Utah.
  I am proud of the growth and development in my own home State--growth 
that has made Utah one of the leaders of the world in our high tech 
economy.
  Utah's information technology vendor industry is among Utah's largest 
industries, and among the top 10 regions of IT--or information 
technology--activity in the U.S.
  Notably, Utah was listed among the top ten IT centers in the world by 
Newsweek magazine in November 1998.
  The growth of information technology is nowhere more evident and 
dramatic than in my own home State of Utah.
  According to the Utah Information Technologies Association, our IT 
vendor industry grew nearly 9 percent between 1997 and 1998, and 
consists of 2,427 business enterprises.
  While I am on the subject, let me just also note that just a couple 
of weeks ago, a major high-tech company in Utah announced the layoff of 
several hundred Utahns. We have several indications that alternative 
jobs are available.
  I continue to watch this closely. I certainly want these skilled and 
talented people to remain in our State rather than being hired by other 
companies in other States.
  In Utah and elsewhere, our continued economic growth, and our 
competitive edge in the world economy require an adequate supply of 
highly skilled high tech workers. This remains one of our great 
challenges in the 21st century, requiring both short- and long-term 
solutions.

[[Page S8627]]

  The American Competitiveness in the Twenty-first Century Act, S. 
2045, contains both.
  In the short-term, a tight labor market, increasing globalization, 
and a burgeoning economy have combined to increase demand for skilled 
workers well beyond what was forecast when Congress last addressed the 
issue of temporary visas for highly skilled workers in 1998. Therefore, 
my bill, once again, increases the annual cap for the next three years.
  That, Mr. President, is nothing more than a short term solution to 
the workforce needs in my State and across the country.
  The longer term solution lies with our own children and our own 
workers; and in ensuring that our education and training of our current 
and future workforce matches the demands in our high tech 21st century 
global economy.
  Thus, working with my colleagues, I have included in this bill 
strong, effective, and forward-looking provisions directing the more 
than $100 million in fees generated by the visas toward the education 
and retraining of our children and our workforce.
  Those provisions are included in the substitute which I am prepared 
to offer today.
  We are here, today, however, as this session of Congress comes to a 
close, with the fate of this critical legislation extremely uncertain.
  Frankly, when this bill was reported by the Committee, I thought we 
were on track to move this rapidly through the Senate.
  I offered to sit down with other Members--including my colleague from 
Massachusetts, Senator Kennedy, my colleague from California, Mrs. 
Feinstein, and my colleague from Connecticut, Senator Lieberman--to 
work with them on provisions regarding education and training. We have 
done that.
  And, I as I have noted, I am pleased to report that the substitute 
which I intend to offer to this bill, reflects the majority of their 
ideas and proposals.
  Quite unexpectedly, however, the White House weighed in with what 
sounded to me like an ultimatum tying passage of this to other 
unrelated, costly and far reaching immigration amendments.
  Mr. President, I hope we can get this done.
  I know the majority leader filed cloture earlier today on a motion to 
proceed.
  I look forward to working with my colleagues in the coming days to 
try and avoid a confrontational process.
  Again, I hope we can get this done for American workers and children 
and for our continued economic expansion.
  I am grateful to be able to say these words today because I want to 
move this bill forward. It is in the best interest of our country. It 
is in the best interest of of our high-tech community. We are talking 
about nanotechnology technology, quantum computers, all kinds of 
educational projects in which, literally, this Nation needs to be the 
leader. The only way we are going to be the leader is if we continue to 
accentuate the positive by having the best high-tech minds working with 
us.
  Many of these people for whom we want to allow visas are people who 
have been educated in our country, given our education and given our 
information. Frankly, it is much to our advantage to have some of them 
have the privilege of working here before they go back to their own 
countries. This bill will help to resolve that. To have it enmeshed in 
politics, as the White House has tried to do, is a tremendous, 
incredible mistake.
  I hope the President and those who are advising him will back off. 
Let us pass this bill and keep the United States at the forefront of 
the high-tech revolution.
  That is my goal. As everyone knows, I have worked very hard in this 
area. I daresay there is probably no more important bill in this 
Congress, as far as the information technology industry and the high-
tech community are concerned, than this particular bill. There are 
others that rise to its equal, but nothing rises beyond it.
  Mr. President, I suggest the absence of a quorum.
  The PRESIDING OFFICER. The clerk will call the roll.
  The assistant legislative clerk proceeded to call the roll.
  Mr. CRAIG. Mr. President, I ask unanimous consent that the order for 
the quorum call be rescinded.
  The PRESIDING OFFICER. Without objection, it is so ordered.
  Mr. CRAIG. Mr. President, I ask unanimous consent that I be allowed 
to proceed in morning business and to consume such time as I may need.
  The PRESIDING OFFICER. Without objection, it is so ordered.

                          ____________________





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