Legislation that would temporarily expand the number of foreign skilled professionals admitted into the U.S. each year on a short-term basis eagerly sought by industry to alleviate the skills shortage passed the Senate Monday night. A similar measure is scheduled for a vote in the House Judiciary Committee Wednesday.
Sponsored by Sen. Spencer Abraham (R, Mich.), the Senate bill passed by a 78-20 margin. Lending urgency to the passage was the fact that the current cap on the number of visas allotted to such professionals officially was reached May 7, nearly five months before the end of the current fiscal year.
Hailing the bills passage, National Assn. of Manufacturers Senior Vice President Paul Huard said, "The expertise of professionals who have the technical and specialty skills companies need to boost productivity and introduce new products has led to an unprecedented period of economic prosperity for working Americans. If the only way to continue this trend and keep the economy healthy is through hiring more skilled foreign professionals on a short-term basis, companies must be allowed to do so."