A Virginia Republican lawmaker is hoping to get a high-skill immigration bill on the table in the House, but it would come at the expense of one Democrat's prized visa programs. Meanwhile, a Maryland congressional lawmaker is playing a significant role in the hearings over the IRS scandal and the latest controversy around a top IRS official using her Fifth Amendment right not to testify. David Hawkings, political columnist at Hawkings Here for Roll Call, talks about the latest details.
On how the high-skill immigration proposal from Virginia Rep. Bob Goodlatte, and California Rep. Darrel Issa, fit into the immigration debate in the House: "At first blush, one would it think it sort of muddies the waters a bit. Goodlatte, who sort of represents an area close to the west of our area has said for the last couple of months that it is in his interest in moving a series of small rifle shot bills on the topic of immigration — that he does not want to do the all-encompassing approach that is underway in the Senate. This is a part of that. It's not a small matter that he and Chairman Issa, the chairman of the Government Oversight Committee, who disagreed last year on this approach, in part because Issa represents high-tech California. Now they've come to an agreement. In a sense, that's important. But is pretty far apart from what most Democrats want. This is an all-Republican agreement. Democrats don't like it. They don't think it does enough to protect the labor union movement."
On what it would mean for the Democrats' visa program: "The one thing I don't like about it is the most it would do away with is the so-called visa lottery. The basic principle here is to boost the number of visas for people who get trained in the United States in the so-called STEM skills (science, technology, engineering, and math), to allow them, if they get trained here, to stay here and get permanent residency. But at the expense of turning off the lottery system that now awards similar visas to people from all over the world."
On how Maryland Rep. Elijah Cummings will be involved in the IRS scandal going forward: "Mr. Cummings is the top Democrat on the Issa committee, the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee, and he and Issa, have been working together (on the visa issue), relatively closely on the matter of getting Lois Lerner to testify. It's an example of how nothing unites the party like disdain for the IRS."