House Dem: Immigration, tax policy and education are keys to innovation

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"We need to do a much better job on immigration," Polis said, emphasizing the importance of keeping STEM graduate students at U.S. universities in the country after they finish their degrees.

Polis also supports repatriation legislation that would give firms a tax-free window to bring revenue from foreign subsidiaries back to the U.S., which he compared to a similar window in 2004. He estimated said there is as much as $1 trillion in capital held by U.S. firms currently stuck in foreign countries.

Polis said firms have a discinventive in the form of a 15 to 20 percent penalty to bring those funds back to the U.S., where he said it could help create jobs.

"We're already struggling to compete on the merits, we don't need a penalty" in addition, Polis said.