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[Congressional Record: September 15, 2000 (Senate)]
[Page S8619-S8620]
From the Congressional Record Online via GPO Access []


  Mr. LOTT. Mr. President, there have been numerous efforts over the 
past several months to find a way to come to agreement on how to 
proceed to the so-called H-1B bill, which is a bill to provide for 
additional high-tech workers to come into this country. Since we have 
already reached the limit, I believe, for this year, there is a need 
for additional workers in this area. We have negotiated back and forth. 
At one point we were talking about 10 amendments on each side. Then we 
got down to seven, six, and yet Senator Daschle and I were working to 
see if we could clear five amendments.
  Then you get into all kinds of discussions. Are these just relevant 
amendments or can it be five agreed-to amendments? How do we deal with 
Senators who would want to add clearly unrelated amendments that could 
take down the whole issue?
  Without questioning the motives of anybody, I think Senator Daschle 
and I have been serious in trying to work something out. We have tried 
repeatedly, but there have been objections for one reason or another on 
both sides. I do not think we can pursue that any further, although one 
of the major problems, I had a Senator tell me yesterday maybe he would 
feel he would not object by Tuesday. But if we wait until Tuesday, then 
we have lost more days. So if we should be able to come to agreement 
that would be good. We could vitiate cloture and go to it. If we 
cannot, we need to go ahead and get to this issue.
  Hopefully we can get cloture, and when we do, relevant amendments 
would still be in order, and we still would have to go through a 
conference. Obviously, there would be input from both sides of the 
aisle, both sides of the Capitol, and from the administration on the 
final contours on this bill. But we are down to the point now where 
there are a number of important bills remaining on the calendar, and if 
we don't find a way to address them one of two things will happen: They 
either won't be considered in a conference at the end of the session, 
or they will be considered in such a way that they will be added to 
some other bill, unrelated, some appropriations conference report, or 
something else.
  At times that is the best way to proceed, and we should keep that 
option open. But I would prefer to have the Senate act its will on a 
bill of this type and relevant amendments be offered and debated and 
voted on. So that is what I want to try to set up here.
  I have notified the Democratic leader--he has a representative here--
that this is what we are going to do now, that we would move to a 
cloture motion and then we will get to vote on it next week.

                             cloture motion

  Mr. LOTT. Mr. President, I move to proceed to S. 2045, the H-1B 
legislation, and send the cloture motion to the desk.
  The PRESIDING OFFICER. The cloture motion having been presented under 
rule XXII, the Chair directs the clerk to read the motion.
  The legislative clerk read as follows:

                             Cloture Motion

  We the undersigned Senators, in accordance with the provisions of 
rule XXII of the Standing Rules of the Senate, do hereby move to bring 
to a close debate on the motion to proceed to calendar No. 490, S. 
2045, a bill to amend the Immigration and Nationality Act with respect 
to H-1B Non-Immigrant Aliens:
         Trent Lott, Chuck Hagel, Spencer Abraham, Phil Gramm, Jim 
           Bunning, Kay Bailey Hutchison, Sam Brownback, Rod 
           Grams, Jesse Helms, John Ashcroft, Gordon Smith of 
           Oregon, Pat Roberts, Slade Gorton, Connie Mack, John 
           Warner and Robert Bennett.

  Mr. LOTT. Mr. President, this cloture vote will occur, unless there 
is some intervening agreement, on Tuesday. I ask unanimous consent the 
cloture vote occur immediately following the passage of H.R. 4444, and 
the mandatory quorum under rule XXII be waived.
  The PRESIDING OFFICER. Is there objection? The Senator from North 
  Mr. DORGAN. Reserving the right to object, I will not object, but I 
want to make a comment to the majority leader.
  This H-1B visa bill is important to all of us. It is important to 
those on the Democratic side of the aisle as well. We recognize that 
our economy is experiencing substantial and sustained growth, 
unparalleled growth, and to keep that on track we have to ensure our 
high-tech industry has the employees it needs.
  I was at a company in California some while ago and the president of 
the company said we have 2,000 open positions for engineers right now 
that we can't fill. There is not any way for us to fill them--2,000 
jobs, engineers we need and we can't get. So we understand this issue. 
We want it to be resolved.
  I must say, the Democratic leader is not here today. On his behalf, I 
would mention to you that with regard to the

[[Page S8620]]

discussions that you and he have had about the potential for five 
amendments on a side--he was fairly optimistic about being able to 
clear that. We think that can be resolved. We hope it can be resolved 
on next Tuesday. It is our understanding the Republican leader was 
amenable in those discussions to an agreement that would allow five 
amendments on each side related to H-1B or to technology-related job 
training, education, and access.
  It is also our understanding the Republican leader was amenable to 
our Democratic leader, or his designee, offering a Latino fairness 
amendment and a Liberian adjustment amendment.
  I want to make a comment on his behalf that support of relief for 
immigrants who have fled wars in Haiti, El Salvador, Honduras, and 
Guatemala, and to other longtime residents who have been in the United 
States since before 1986 is important to ensure fairness in the 
immigration system. If we do this, we will immediately increase the 
size of the legal workforce and also alleviate the shortage of low-
skilled workers, and we will keep families together.
  We believe our offer is reasonable. We hope we can work out an 
agreement. I think the discussions we have had about the five 
amendments on each side is something that should give us some hope that 
we will be able to resolve this soon and certainly before this Congress 
  It is a very important issue. You want to address it. We want to 
address it. We believe we should find a way to connect here and reach 
agreement to do so.
  Mr. LOTT. Will the Senator yield on another point? He and I have 
discussed the fact that we need to make sure that, wherever possible, 
some of these high-tech jobs be available in areas now that are 
underserved--rural areas, including my own State and the State of North 
Dakota and several other States. I think Nebraska would be in that 
group. You know, you can't direct where those jobs go, but we could 
encourage some of those programs, some of these people to be taken into 
areas where there are not now opportunities, that training be available 
for them. That certainly would be very attractive so we do not have the 
high-tech industry only concentrated on the west coast and Northern 
Virginia or in some other areas, but to try to spread it as much as 
possible. That is an issue I would like us to consider.
  With regard to the immigrant problems, I think, as he knows, we have 
in the past supported some movement in that area. I believe there is 
some application now to Nicaraguans that are here. Of course that 
causes some of the problems. Some of their neighbors don't have that 
same consideration. We should look at this issue. We should do it 
thoughtfully. But that is one of the problems.
  H-1B has been pending a long time. We need to get it done. The 
argument can be made that these are different issues. For instance, I 
understand the other issues mentioned would not be relevant postcloture 
to the bill, but I do think it is going to be an issue that is going to 
be discussed as we get to the end of this session to see if there is 
some way some of those can be addressed. The Senator is talking, in 
some instances, about a relatively small number of people. One he 
mentioned was Liberian immigrants, focused primarily on one State. 
Maybe something can be done on that.
  I want us to find a way to get this bill done. It has been dragging 
for 6 months. We are down to the last 2 weeks of the fiscal year. I am 
trying to set up a process that guarantees we get to a conclusion while 
we continue to work with those on both sides who may have objections.
  The problem we have is, if you include these three, four, or five, 
you will have other people who will say: What about this issue, that 
would cause a filibuster to begin and we would wind up having to pull 
down the bill. I would rather that not be the end result.
  Mr. DORGAN. Mr. President, if the majority leader will yield further 
under my reservation, as he knows, it is even difficult to agree to 
five amendments. We are willing to do that. The Democratic leader wants 
this bill done. I want it done. My colleagues want it done. We risk 
ending this session not doing something that we know should be done. We 
need to do this H-1B bill, and we need to increase the number of these 
  Let me also respond to the point the Senator from Mississippi made a 
moment ago. The Senator from Mississippi pointed out that if we bring 
additional people in to fill jobs here, which makes sense--I much 
prefer they come in and fill jobs in this country rather than have the 
company move their operations to India or some other country--it makes 
sense also not to move all of those jobs into the same part of the 
country. Because information technology now allows us to do this work 
anyplace in the country, what about targeting some areas of the country 
where we have had outmigration, where we have lost population? That is 
what the Senator from Mississippi said. I think it makes eminent good 
sense. I hope we can work on at least a piece of that.
  I will not object. Again I say it is our intention to get this 
legislation passed. We think the proposal offered in the last couple of 
days makes sense. We think we can probably clear that in the manner 
previously discussed between Senator Daschle and Senator Lott.
  The PRESIDING OFFICER (Mr. Hagel). Without objection, it is so 
  Mr. LOTT. Mr. President, I now withdraw the motion to proceed.
  The PRESIDING OFFICER. The Senator has that right. The motion is 
  Mr. LOTT. Mr. President, I suggest the absence of a quorum.
  The PRESIDING OFFICER. The clerk will call the roll.
  The legislative clerk proceeded to call the roll.
  Mr. DORGAN. 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. DORGAN. Mr. President, I ask unanimous consent to speak as in 
morning business.
  The PRESIDING OFFICER. The Senator from North Dakota has up to 20 
minutes. The Senator from North Dakota.