By Jennifer Martinez and Brendan Sasso - 09/17/12 10:37 PM EDT
THE LEDE: Both houses are gearing up for action on high-skilled immigration reform this week.
Sen. Charles Schumer (D-N.Y.) is planning to make the details of his new STEM visa bill, called the BRAINS Act, public at an event in New York on Tuesday and will formally introduce the bill in the Senate on Wednesday.
Smith's measure has received the blessing of House Republican leaders and is expected to be put to a vote later this week. The fast-tracking of Smith's bill caught House Democrats by surprise, and Rep. Zoe Lofgren (D-Calif.) quickly introduced a bill before the House broke for the weekend that is similar to Smith's and proposes to add the same number of visas as his measure.
The major sticking point Democrats have with Smith's bill is it would eliminate the diversity visa program, which they argue is a legal avenue for immigration to the United States. Unlike Smith's bill, both Lofgren and Schumer's measures would keep the diversity visa program in place.
But despite Congress's recent surge of action on the issue, this trio of bills is not expected to go far: the momentum is viewed as Congress making a last-minute push on a top priority for tech companies ahead of the November elections.
Major tech companies, such as Intel and Microsoft, have long advocated for Congress to pass legislation that would boost the number of green cards available to foreign-born graduates with master's and doctorate degrees in STEM fields.
Even if Smith's bill gains enough votes to pass the House, it's expected to go untouched by the Senate. Schumer's measure also isn't likely to see any action this year, with the elections on the horizon and a limited number of working days left on the calendar.
While both parties have supported high-skilled immigration reform, bills on this issue don't end up moving because they've gotten caught up in the web of the larger immigration debate.
CBO says digital goods bill will cost states $3B: The Congressional Budget Office (CBO) estimated on Monday that the Digital Goods and Services Tax Fairness Act will cost states an estimated $3 billion in tax revenue in 2013.
The bill, H.R. 1860, bars states from imposing "multiple or discriminatory taxes" on digital items, such as music files, mobile applications or e-books.
"In total, lost revenues from enactment of H.R. 1860 would total between 1 percent and 2 percent of state and local sales taxes on all goods and services due in 2013," the office wrote.
The impact would vary significantly depending on each state's tax system.
Leahy celebrates anniversary of patent bill: Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Patrick Leahy (D-Vt.) celebrated the one-year anniversary on Monday of President Obama signing his America Invents Act.
“Enactment of the patent bill was more than a victory for American inventors, large and small; it was a demonstration that Congress can still work in a bipartisan, bicameral matter,” Leahy said in a statement. “The legislative success of the patent bill shows what we can achieve when we put aside rhetoric and, instead, negotiate and collaborate in good faith.”
White House confirms cybersecurity order in the works: National Security Adviser John Brennan confirmed that the White House is drafting an executive order to encourage companies to better protect vital computer systems.
In the letter released Friday, Brennan said the administration cannot unilaterally achieve all of the goals of cybersecurity legislation, and urged Congress to push ahead with its own comprehensive efforts.
NAB could drop suit: The National Association of Broadcasters (NAB) on Monday moved to delay its lawsuit challenging the Federal Communications Commission's (FCC) order requiring TV stations to put political advertising data online.
The group told a federal court that it needs more time to decide whether to drop the case entirely.
"Based on experience gained during the 2012 election cycle, NAB may conclude that it is not necessary to proceed with this case," the group wrote.
Trade group for Internet infrastructure: A new trade coalition dedicated to representing the voice of the Internet infrastructure industry — including cloud computing providers, domain registrars and Web-hosting companies — launched Monday.
The Internet Infrastructure Coalition — or i2Coalition, for short — will represent Internet infrastructure companies' views on public policy matters and advocate for policies that will support the continued growth of the industry. The i2Coalition has 42 inaugural members, including cloud computing company Rackspace and Web-hosting provider ServInt.