Cornyn: Spending bill will include foreign investor visa program
© Greg Nash

Sen. John CornynJohn CornynMental health: The power of connecting requires the power of investing Senators call for Smithsonian Latino, women's museums to be built on National Mall Cornyn says he 'would be surprised' if GOP tries to unseat Sinema in 2024 MORE (R-Texas) said Monday that a short-term spending bill will include an extension of a visa program set to expire at the end of the month, even as negotiations remain deadlocked.

Asked if the EB-5 investor visa program would be a part of the government funding bill, the Senate's No. 2 Republican told reporters "I think that will be part of the [continuing resolution], yeah." 

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Cornyn's comments come as talks about how to reauthorize the program have stalled in Congress, with senators split on how to determine where money under the program is sent. 

Sens. Chuck GrassleyChuck GrassleyGraham emerges as go-to ally for Biden's judicial picks Iowa Democrat drops bid to challenge Grassley after death of nephew Bipartisan senators press FBI, inspector general for changes following Nassar case MORE (R-Iowa) and Patrick LeahyPatrick Joseph LeahyThe Hill's Morning Report - Ins and outs: Powell renominated at Fed, Parnell drops Senate bid On The Money — Biden sticks with Powell despite pressure Welch to seek Senate seat in Vermont MORE (D-Vt.) sent a letter to congressional leadership late last week arguing that the program should either see reforms or be allowed to expire ahead of the Sept. 30 deadline to extend the visa program. 

Asked about the opposition from Grassley and Leahy, who lead the Senate Judiciary Committee, Cornyn said he and Sen. Chuck SchumerChuck SchumerSchumer mourns death of 'amazing' father Feehery: The honest contrarian Biden administration to release oil from strategic reserve: reports MORE (D-N.Y.) had "made good faith offers" but haven't gotten a response. 

"These are very valuable programs that help grow our economy and create investment in our communities all across our country," Cornyn added. "It should not be allowed to expire." 

Grassley and Leahy previously teamed up on legislation to direct more money from the program toward poor and rural areas by redefining the guidelines for targeted employment areas, or TEAs. That proposal drew opposition from Schumer and Cornyn who argued it would favor rural over urban areas.

Grassley, separately, sent a letter to Homeland Security Secretary Jeh Johnson on Monday, writing that the program "has significant problems that not only pose a threat to our national security, but also threaten the integrity of our financial and legal immigration systems." 

The Iowa Republican added that he is concerned that foreign governments and corporations "are increasingly taking advantage" of the program. He wants a briefing on policies that permit foreign ownership of an EB-5 regional center or allow foreign corporations to profit from the projects. 

A spokesperson for Grassley said the Iowa senator "has had multiple discussions with Senator Cornyn's staff about a portion of the program" over the past month -- and as recently as Friday morning. 

"Grassley would welcome further negotiations," the spokesperson added. "The last proposal that was provided, however, advocated for making these visas cheaper and more abundant than what’s in current law, which is not acceptable." 
 
Updated 7:12 p.m.