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[Congressional Record: September 21, 2000 (Senate)]
[Page S8936-S8937]
From the Congressional Record Online via GPO Access [wais.access.gpo.gov]
[DOCID:cr21se00-129]                         



 
                       VISA WAIVER PILOT PROGRAM

  Mr. LEAHY. Mr. President, I rise today to urge the majority to lift 
its hold on H.R. 3767, which would permanently authorize the visa 
waiver pilot

[[Page S8937]]

program. I am a cosponsor of the Senate version of this legislation, 
which will achieve the important goal of making our visa waiver program 
permanent. We have had a visa waiver pilot project for more than a 
decade, and it has been a tremendous success in allowing residents of 
some of our most important allies to travel to the United States for up 
to 90 days without obtaining a visa, and in allowing American citizens 
to travel to those countries without visas. Countries must meet a 
number of requirements to participate in the program, including having 
extraordinarily low rates of visa refusals. Of course, the visa waiver 
does not affect the need for international travelers to carry valid 
passports.
  The visa waiver pilot program expired on April 30. The House passed 
legislation to make the program permanent before that deadline. But the 
Senate failed to meet this deadline, and the Administration was forced 
to extend it administratively. Since then, the Senate has missed 
deadline after deadline, and has had to rely on the grace of the 
Administration for this program--which is relied upon by thousands of 
American travelers every year--to continue.
  Every Democratic Senator has cleared this bill. But the majority has 
refused to clear it, even five months after it passed the House and the 
statutory authorization for this program expired. Earlier in the year, 
some members had substantive concerns about the bill. Those have been 
rectified. I am unaware of any remaining substantive objections to this 
legislation, and it is now well past time to pass it. Passing it will 
not require any floor debate or roll call vote. It simply requires 
Senators to life their holds.
  This is a bill that benefits American travelers from every State and 
the tourism industry in every State. It is not a Democratic bill or a 
Republican bill. It is not a regional bill. It is simply a good, 
common-sense bill that deserves the Senate's support. There has been 
too much stalling on this bill already--we should act today.

                          ____________________





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