Senate Judiciary panel to debate high-skilled immigration amendments

Tech representatives have been privately fighting against a set of amendments offered by Grassley that propose to add new rules and requirements to the H-1B temporary worker program. They argue Grassley's amendments would make it difficult for their businesses to use the program to hire top foreign talent and could force them to make those hires abroad instead.

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Grassley has said his amendments are "commonsense" solutions and intended to rid the H-1B program of fraud and abuse. He has argued that companies have used the H-1B program to game the current immigration system and bypass hiring American workers.

The tech industry is pushing for the committee to adopt a group of amendments by Sen. Orrin Hatch (R-Utah). Those amendments include language similar to Hatch's Immigration Innovation Act that the tech community widely supports.

The Senate Judiciary Committee began marking up the sweeping bill this week and is working its way through the roughly 300 amendments filed by committee members. The Judiciary panel adopted 21 amendments to the bill this week and considered a total of 33 proposed changes, according to Leahy. 

The Judiciary chair said the committee "made significant progress this week" and completed its work on the section of the bill focused on border security.

Leahy has put the markup on an ambitious timeline and hopes the panel will complete its work before Congress adjourns for the Memorial Day recess at the end of the month.