Senators debate STEM visa bills

“The goal is to help the United States retain more of the highly skilled immigrants who come to study in our country,” Cornyn said on the floor Wednesday.

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Schumer said if Republicans truly just wanted to increase the number of STEM visas, that they’d agree to his own version, the BRAINS Act, S. 3553.

Schumer said his bill didn’t have “anti-immigrant” language, which he said the GOP version did. Schumer said the Republican bill took existing visas away from others and designated them exclusively for STEM use, while his version increased the number of STEM visas without taking visas away from other immigrants.

Cornyn pointed to the fact that the Republican version already passed the House, while Schumer’s hadn’t and said passage was an important step in comprehensive immigration reform.

“Here we go again making the perfect the enemy of the good,” Cornyn said. “And we’re not moving forward on comprehensive immigration reform.”

Sen. Rand Paul (R-Ky.) spoke in support of the STEM Jobs Act, saying both sides should compromise because they’ll never agree on everything.

“We could take a small step forward today,” Paul said. “This bill could be passed today … [but] I will also note that the president and the majority party will object because they want everything they want.”

“Well guess what, we’re never going to agree on everything.”

Paul called Schumer's move "empty partisanship."

Cornyn said he believed that if the Senate couldn't pass this legislation that it will never be able to pass comprehensive immigration reform.