Rubio backs bipartisan bill to ease immigration rules for skilled workers

Sen. Marco Rubio (R-Fla.) this week lent his support to a bipartisan jobs bill that would ease immigration rules for highly skilled workers so they can work in the United States, a proposal aimed at keeping U.S. companies competitive with their global counterparts. 

But the bill will also likely be viewed in the context of Rubio's broader views on immigration, given his status as a possible vice presidential candidate for Mitt Romney.

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Rubio joined Sens. Roy Blunt (R-Mo.), Chris Coons (D-Del.), Jerry Moran (R-Kan.) and Mark Warner (D-Va.) on the Startup Act 2.0, S. 3217, which combines immigration reform with eased tax and regulatory rules.

On immigration, the bill creates a new visa for U.S.-educated foreign students who graduate with a masters or Ph.D. in science, engineering or math, allowing these students to get a green card and work in the United States. It also creates an entrepreneur's visa for legal immigrants, and ends per-country caps on employment-based immigrant visas.

"Teaming up with Senators Moran, Warner and Coons on Startup Act 2.0 is a worthy effort to break through Washington's gridlock and help entrepreneurs create new jobs through key reforms to our tax, visa and regulatory systems," Rubio said. "Startup Act 2.0 is built on ideas that have bipartisan support and could become law tomorrow if Washington stopped playing games and started working for the people."

Rubio's support for the bill follows his April announcement that he supports a path that children of illegal immigrants can use to win legal status in the United States, but not full citizenship. Rubio's broader plan is meant to compete with the Democratic DREAM Act, which would give illegal aliens a path to permanent residency.

Supporters of the Startup Act cast it as a way to ensure the competitiveness of U.S. companies, and see the immigration language as a way to ensure U.S. companies can keep talented employees that are not U.S. citizens.

"Working together, we have put together bipartisan proposals that will help us compete and win the global contest for talent," Warner said.

Moran, the main sponsor of the bill, said combining elements of immigration, tax and regulatory reform should help strengthen the ability of companies to expand and create much-needed jobs.

"Startup Act 2.0 will create jobs for Americans by creating a circumstance in which entrepreneurs can succeed and the United States can win the global battle for talent," said Moran, who also spoke on the Senate floor about the bill Wednesday morning.

Aside from the immigration changes, the bill would also make permanent the exemption of capital gains taxes on the sale of start-up stock, create an R&D tax credit for new start-ups with less than $5 million in receipts, and support university initiatives to bring research to the marketplace more quickly.

Like other bills supported in the House, the bill would also require a cost-benefit analysis of major regulatory decisions to better gauge their impact on companies.

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