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Rep. Issa's bill on H-1B visas goes to committee vote today. Photo: Molly Riley / AP

California Rep. Darrell Issa's bill on H-1B visa allocations heads to its first committee vote Wednesday morning. The bill would make it more difficult for so-called "H-1B dependent" companies to obtain the work permits. Currently, companies with 15% or more employees using the visas are labeled as H-1B dependent.

Why it matters: The Trump administration has already taken aim at H-1B dependent companies that it sees as abusing the H-1B visa program, which currently allocates 85,000 visas annually for high-skilled workers. Issa's bill would be the first legislative step toward reforming visa eligibility — a move that India-based IT services firms say unfairly targets them.

The politics: In 2015, utility company Southern California Edison (in Issa's district) laid off nearly 500 IT workers after hiring two H-1B dependent outsourcing firms. Some laid-off workers said they had to train their visa-holding replacements — an anecdote that President Trump used on the campaign trail.

"We are happy to have additional workers brought in to fill gaps," Issa said. "What we don't want is where they clearly displace American workers for less money."

He added that India-based outsourcing firms would need to meet the new standards laid out in the "Protect and Grow American Jobs Act," including guaranteeing their hiring will not result in American layoffs.

The gritty details: In a deal struck with California Rep. Zoe Lofgren, the bill heading to a markup today includes a number of provisions for H-1B dependent firms. While the new bill would change the threshold for defining H-1B dependent employers — to those with at least 20% of their workforce using the visas from its current 15% — the proposal would also eliminate several other exemptions so the net impact would be broader.

Other provisions of the bill would:

  • Eliminate the exemption for H-1B workers with advanced degrees and increases the $60,000 minimum salary for an H-1B visa holder to $90,000 annually (and possibly more depending on a new formula accounting for the job classification and region).
  • Require certain H-1B employers to attest that they will not displace a U.S. worker during their entire employment, including employment with a third party (or consulting firm). Current law requires that attestation only 90 days prior and 90 days after the filing of an H-1B petition.
  • Require H-1B employers to submit a report summarizing the good faith efforts taken to recruit U.S. workers, the number of U.S. workers that applied for the job, and reasons why jobs were not offered to those candidates.
  • Require H-1B dependent employers to pay workers at least the average wage paid to other workers in the same occupational classification in the same area of employment.
  • Authorize the Labor Department to conduct at least five random investigations of H-1B dependent employers annually. H-1B dependent companies would be charged a new $495 fee to pay for the investigations.

The other side: India-based IT firms, most of which are classified as H-1B dependent firms, say the bill discriminates against them. "If you're looking at protecting American workers, we don't have a problem with these provisions applying to all companies," said NASSCOM president R. Chandrashekhar. "But these provisions are applicable only to a subset of companies and applicable in such a way that targets Indian companies"

Go deeper: Indian firms fight proposals to slash H-1B visas.

Watch today: The markup will be live-streamed here at 1pm ET.

Go deeper

Republican Sen. Sasse slams Nebraska GOP for "weird worship" of Trump after state party rebuke

Sen. Ben Sasse, (R-Neb.) Photo: Andrew Harnik - Pool/Getty Images

The Nebraska Republican Party on Saturday formally "rebuked" Sen. Ben Sasse (R-Neb.) for his vote to impeach former President Trump earlier this year, though it stopped short of a formal censure, CNN reports.

Why it matters: Sasse is the latest among a slate of Republicans who have faced some sort of punishment from their state party apparatus after voting to impeach the former president. The senator responded statement Saturday, per the Omaha World-Herald, saying "most Nebraskans don't think politics should be about the weird worship of one dude."

Cuomo barraged by fellow Dems after second harassment accusation

New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo faced a barrage of criticism from fellow Democrats after The New York Times reported that the second former aide in four days had accused him of sexual harassment.

Why it matters: Cuomo had faced a revolt from legislators for his handling of nursing-home deaths from COVID. Now, the scandal is acutely personal, with obviously grave political risk.

2 hours ago - Health

Fauci: Children "very likely" to get COVID vaccine at start of 2022

NIAID Director Anthony Fauci. Photo: Win McNamee/Getty Images)

Children under age 12 will "very likely" be able to get vaccinated for coronavirus at the "earliest the end of the year, and very likely the first quarter of 2022," NIAID Director Anthony Fauci told "Meet the Press" Sunday.

Why it matters: Children generally aren't at risk of serious coronavirus infections, but vaccinating them will be key to protecting the adults around them and, eventually, reaching herd immunity, writes Axios' Caitlin Owens.