GOP legislators (140) voted for a bill drafted by business groups and Democrats which provides a green card giveaway to 300,000 Indian contract workers and dramatically increases the incentives for more Indian graduates to take college graduate jobs in the United States.
The 365- to-65 vote means the bill moves to the Senate, where GOP Senators are pushing a matching giveaway bill which is backed by Democrat Senator and presidential hopeful, Sen. Kamala Harris. Only 57 of 197 GOP legislators - and only eight Democrats - present voted against the giveaway.
The GOP's House leader, Rep. Kevin McCarthy, voted for the giveaway to Indian outsourcing workers.
The bill also helps U.S. real-estate investors by extending the green-card giveaway to the Chinese leaders who use the EB-5 program to buy green cards for their families.
The Senate's version of the bill was halted in late June when Sen. Rand Paul blocked a "unanimous consent" maneuver by GOP Utah Sen. Mike Lee. But Paul may switch his vote, allowing Lee to repeat his "unanimous consent" maneuver. Lee is backed by South Carolina Sen. Lindsey Graham, who chairs the Senate's judiciary committee.
Business groups touted the win before the vote. Via Twitter, Andrew Moriarty, deputy director of federal policy at Mark Zuckerberg's FWD.us advocacy group compared the HR.1044 "country caps" bill to the Democrats' DACA-amnesty bill:
This is a very important bipartisan effort that we strongly support... If this passes, it will join the Dream and Promise Act as two pieces of commonsense but CRUCIAL immigration legislation passed by the House this year, waiting only for a vote in the Senate.
The Department of Homeland Security finally announced its opposition to the Senate's version - S.386 - of the legislation, shortly before the House voted for the giveaway to Indian contract-workers and their U.S. employers:
The Department of Homeland Security does not support S. 386. The bill would do nothing to move the current employer-sponsored system toward a more merit-based system. The adverse effect on immigrant visa wait times for nationals of countries currently with lesser demand would be an obstacle to any potential plan to promote or increase immigration from countries who immigrants present reduced risk, such as Visa Waiver Program countries, or any other class of countries which the Administration may desire to provide preferential treatment (e.g., countries with which the U.S. has negotiated favorable trade deals).
The statement was signed by Joseph Joh, Assistant Director and Senior Adviser for the Office of Legislative Affairs at DHS.
Joh's letter may become irrelevant if business lobbies persuade top White House aides and President Donald Trump to accept the green-card bill as a variety of "merit-based immigration."
White House officials may also argue the bill has nothing to do with immigration and amnesties, but only deals with visa workers who are supposedly needed by high-tech companies. In practice, there is no shortage of high tech workers- only a shortage of CEOs and investors willing to spend the money needed to hire some of the many American professionals employed at other companies.
In the Senate, GOP leaders may choose to block the giveaway bill, in part, because it is being pushed by Sen. Kamala Harris, who may be the Democrats' challenger in 2020.
Establishment media outlets almost entirely ignored the HR.1044 bill prior to its approval. After the vote, Tai Kopan, the San Franciso Chronicle's Washington reporter, praised the House vote even though the legislation would raise the number of Indians seeking to displace the declining share of American graduates in her newspaper's home district of Silicon Valley:
Think there's no room for bipartisan agreement on immigration? @ZoeLofgren and @RepKenBuck's bill to end per-country caps for employment visas (i.e. reduce the backlogs) passed 365-65 today. Was never called for a vote last Congress.
Throughout the run-up to the brief House debate, the House GOP leadership kept a low profile as the giveaway bill was protested by immigration reform groups, including NumbersUSA, the Federation for American Immigration reform, ALIPC and other groups. Hill staffers reported that the phone lines were clogged by the pro-American groups.
But there is no sign that the GOP leadership pressured other GOP legislators to vote against the Democrat-corporate legislation.
The top GOP legislator on the House judiciary committee, Georgia Rep. Doug Collins, announced he would vote against the legislation because it did not go through a process of hearings and votes.
Whip Steve Scalise kept a low profile, and quietly voted against the measure.
Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy voted for the giveaway, which provides a fast-track to green cards for 300,000 Indian contract-workers and 300,000 of their family members who choose to stay and work in the United States after their work visas expired. They were allowed to stay once their employers nominated them for green cards.
GOP House leaders Kevin McCarthy @GOPLeader and Whip Steve Scalise @SteveScalise remain mute as biz lobbyists prod GOP Reps. to vote for Democrat bill which rewards Indian lower-wage contract-workers (300K+ current & more future) with green cards & voting http://bit.ly/30yYKI3
The legislation offers roughly 75,000 extra green cards per year to encourage Indian graduates to become contract workers in the United States.
Indian graduates use the H-1B visa program and the Optional Practical Training program to seek low-wage job offers for U.S. white-collar jobs that are also sought by the 800,000 Americans who graduate from college each year with new degrees in healthcare, engineering, business, science, math, computers or science.
The Democrat bill includes no protections for American graduates - many of whom have large college debts - and it ignored alternative measures that would have reduced the companies' ability to hire Indian outsourcing workers and also pay them with green cards.
Shortly before the vote, McCarthy's election campaign announced a record haul of political contributions:
No House Republican has ever raised as much money in the first half of a year as Republican leader Kevin McCarthy (Calif.) has thus far in 2019, according to fundraising figures released by his campaign on Wednesday morning.
McCarthy's fundraising committees announced the campaign had raised $10.66 million in the second quarter, bringing his total haul for the year thus far to $33.72 million. The success has allowed it to already distribute $8.8 directly to reelection campaigns of members and $10.7 million to the National Republican Congressional Committee and state parties.
"The substantial resources raised thus far will allow us to take our vision and message to the people-and expand the map by outworking, out-recruiting and exposing the corrupt, inept new Democrat socialist party," McCarthy said. "Together we will restore a government that put America first and every American back on top."
In the brief floor debate on Wednesday, GOP legislators repeatedly praised the bill because it helps imported workers, investors, and companies. They did not explain how it might help American graduates, middle-class voters, and professional employees.
As the Ranking Member of @JudiciaryGOP Subcommittee on Immigration and Citizenship, I thank my colleagues for supporting #HR1044. It's time to eliminate the 7% "per-country" limit on employment-based immigrant visas so U.S. companies can fill knowledge gaps in certain fields.
I do believe in merit-based immigration, but I don't think this is the bill, though, because it would reward employers who literally replace American workers potentially with hundreds of thousands of low cost, less skilled workers who are entering on temporary visas, mainly H-1Bs, often working the tech sector.
If we want to raise the standard of living of the American people, right now, the little bit of shortage we have in the job market, you know, it creates an opportunity for ... it is a natural pressure-up that people are going to get more pay, better benefits and if you start allowing immigration on a mass level ... you have to do it in a way that protects the American worker and their ability to climb the ladder of success and their opportunities and their standard of living.
I want a solution to the problem ... the devil is in the details. It can always be done better.
Sen. Kamala Harris is the top Democratic sponsor of a bill which gives green cards to Indian grads if they take jobs from US college graduates. GOP Senators also support the bill which would boost Wall Street stock values by cutting millennials' salaries. http://bit.ly/2xkk2fF