Two Immigration-Related Amendments Attached to Labor-HHS-Education Appropriations Bill (H.R. 3043)

Cite as "AILA InfoNet Doc. No. 07102467 (posted Oct. 24, 2007)"

On the evening of 10-23-07, during debate on the Departments of Labor, Health and Human Services, and Education, and Related Agencies Appropriations Act of 2008 (>H.R. 3043) two significant immigration-related amendments were passed by voice vote.

The Grassley-Sanders amendment (H.ADMT. 3396), as modified, was added to H.R. 3043. The amendment would add an additional fee of $3,500 to the H-1B visa program which would be used to create a special education fund to promote studies in the fields of math, science and engineering.

Also passed by a voice vote during the debate was the Schumer-Hutchison amendment (H.AMDT. 3404) to increase the domestic supply of nurses and physical therapists by recapturing unused green cards from the years 1996 and 1997. Before the Schumer-Hutchison amendment was passed, it was amended by a Durbin second-degree amendment (H.AMDT. 3449) which attempts to increase the number of nursing faculty and students in the United States, encourages global health care cooperation, and creates a $1,500 fee for a recaptured green card from the underlying amendment. The Durbin amendment also requires that the petitioning healthcare worker attest that he or she has satisfied any outstanding commitment to work in his or her home country.

While these amendments have been incorporated into the Senate’s version of the Labor-HHS appropriations bill, this version must now be reconciled with the House’s version of the bill which does not contain these provisions. A conference between House and Senate members to reconcile the differences has yet to be scheduled. There is also the possibility that this bill will be combined with other appropriation bills as part of an omnibus package. President Bush has also threatened a veto of this bill because it exceeds the budget he outlined by almost $9 billion creating additional uncertainty for the fate of this bill.