In a floor speech Thursday afternoon, GOP Rep. Raul Labrador said Democrats are playing politics on immigration.
Labrador, who was in Miami Wednesday campaigning with Mitt Romney in an appeal to Hispanic voters, criticized Democrats for failing to deliver on President Obama's promise of immigration reform in his first year in office. He noted that during Obama's first two years, Democrats controlled the White House and both chambers in Congress.
"They didn't pass immigration bills, yet the president campaigns on the issue of immigration reform," Labrador said in his floor speech shortly before Thursday afternoon's vote that defeated his immigration jobs bill. "Faced with passing a bill that improves the immigration system, they're making a stand against immigration reform and against economic growth."
The measure co-authored by Labrador is H.R. 6429, which was introduced Tuesday and rushed the the floor Thursday without a hearing. Called the STEM Jobs Act of 2012, it would amend immigration law to eliminate the foreign residency requirement for foreign students with a master's or higher degree in a field of science, technology, engineering, or mathematics (STEM degree) from a U.S. institution of higher education and a job offer from a U.S. employer.
H.R. 6429 was co-authored by Rep. Bob Goodlatte, R-Va., and House Judiciary Committee Chairman Lamar Smith, R-Texas, who recognized Labrador to debate and credited him with helping on the bill. The measure died Thursday when it failed to receive the required two-thirds vote under suspension of the rules, 257-158. Thirty Democrats joined 227 Republicans in backing the measure.
In his speech, Labrador also called out California Democratic Rep. Zoe Lofgren, who opposed H.R. 6429.
Lofgren, you may remember, authored H.R. 2161, from which Labrador copied passages for his H.R. 3146, which was used in drafting H.R. 6429. Lofgren's bill was introduced June 14, 2011, Labrador's Oct. 11, 2011. After a reporter from Computer World noticed what he called Labrador's "cut-and-paste," Labrador spokesman Phil Hardy said Labrador had spoken with industry groups and "they all mentioned that the Lofgren bill was a great starting point." (The Computer World link includes PDFs of both bills, Labrador's coming in at 25 pages, Lofgren's 85 pages.)
Telling colleagues he respected Lofgren, Labrador noted his 15 years of practicing immigration law and said her argument against the bill was based on a false premise. "This is more about politics that policy," he said.
Labrador's office issued a press release late Thursday afternoon on the House action. In the release, Labrador said, "A majority of Congress did vote in favor of the bill and I’m confident that we can gain more support as we continue to work for significant immigration reform.”
The release follows:
HOUSE FAILS TO APPROVE STEM JOBS ACT OF 2012
WASHINGTON, D.C. —The House of Representatives today failed to approve H.R. 6429, the STEM Jobs Act of 2012, cosponsored by Idaho First District Congressman Raúl Labrador. Although the bill received more than the majority of the votes cast, including the support of 30 Democrats, a two-thirds majority was required for passage. The legislation would eliminate layers of bureaucracy in the visa process so that legal foreign students with advanced degrees from American universities in science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) fields could accelerate their transition into the American workforce when offered jobs from U.S. employers in high-tech fields.
“Of course I am disappointed that the STEM Jobs Act isn’t moving forward right now but I believe Congress and the American public know this is good reform,” Labrador said. “The bill had bipartisan co-sponsorship and Democrat support. Studies show 76 percent of Americans support this type of reform. Unfortunately, a majority of Democrats chose politics over good policy and rejected the bill and the economic growth it would foster in our country. We have started a dialogue about real reform and today was not the end of the STEM Jobs Act. A majority of Congress did vote in favor of the bill and I’m confident that we can gain more support as we continue to work for significant immigration reform.”
House Majority Floor Leader Eric Cantor (VA-07) spoke in support of the Act during debate on the House floor and praised Labrador’s work on the legislation:
“This legislation provides students with the opportunity to stay here in the U.S. where they can contribute to the American economy, rather than leaving for other countries and taking their venture capital with them to compete against America and our businesses. I would also like to note that Congressman Bob Goodlatte of Virginia and Congressman Raúl Labrador from Idaho have been instrumental in getting us here.”
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