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[Congressional Record: October 4, 2000 (Extensions)]

[Page E1675-E1676]

From the Congressional Record Online via GPO Access []




                                  speech of

                         HON. PATRICK J. KENNEDY

   of rhode island in the house of representatives

                         Tuesday, October 3, 2000

   Mr. KENNEDY of Rhode Island. Mr. Speaker, in 1998, Congress passed legislation to raise the H-1B caps to 115,000 visas per year. That legislation included important provisions to ensure that American workers would not be displaced by those holding H-1B visas. This included requirements for employers to file applications with the

Department of Labor showing that they will pay the H-1B worker the ``required wage rate'' and that a strike or lockout was not occuring at the job site.

  Unfortunately, that legislation was not enough and already the 115,000 H-1B visa limit for Fiscal Year 2000 has been reached. Tuesday, the Senate passed S. 2045 to increase the H-1B cap to 195,000 through 2003


[[Page E1676]]


and included several important worker training and education provisions. It is now time for the House to pass this bill as well.

  This bill includes provisions so that 55% of the H-1B education and training fees go toward Department of Labor demonstration programs and projects to provide training for workers. Twenty-two percent of the fees will go toward low-income scholarships and fifteen percent of the fees will go toward National Science Foundation grants for math, technology and science education in primary and secondary schools. It also provides after-school technology grants to encourage youth education in these subject areas.

  Earlier this year, I cosponsored ``The Helping to Improve Technology Education and Achievement Act of 2000'' introduced by Congresswoman Zoe Lofgren and Congressman David Dreier. This bill was critical to the debate on this issue and I am proud to have worked with those sponsors, as well as with members on both sides of the aisle who have been dedicated to bringing this bill to the floor.

  I recognize the enormous difficulties that the current worker shortage poses to high tech companies. At the same time, however, I want to insure that we do all that we can to reach the best and brightest in America and providing opportunity for and training to American workers as well. Today's bill is attentive to both of these needs. I urge all of my colleagues to vote for S. 2045.