The CEO Council for Growth is pleased to provide a federal legislative update on policy issues important to the region’s business community.
March 23rd Congressional Delegation Meeting Summary
Members of Congress and their staff for participated in the CEO Council’s annual Congressional Delegation Meeting on March 23rd in Philadelphia. The meeting brought together business, civic, and higher education leaders with Members of our Congressional Delegation to discuss our shared policy priorities. The full meeting briefing booklet can be viewed here.
Members of the Greater Philadelphia Congressional Delegation in attendance included Senators Thomas R. Carper, Robert P. Casey, Jr. , and Christopher Coons as well as Congressmen Ryan A. Costello, Charlie Dent, Chaka Fattah, and Patrick Meehan. Key senior staff represented the offices of Senators Cory A. Booker, Robert Menendez, and Patrick J. Toomey as well as Congressmen Brendan Boyle, Robert Brady, and Donald Norcross.
You can read more about the meeting here.
Highly-Skilled Immigration Reform
The United States Citizenship and Immigration Services agency opened the Fiscal Year 2016 H-1B visa petition window at the start of this month. For the third year in a row, the (cap 65,000 regular cap; 20,000 Master’s Degree cap) was exceeded within days.
The CEO Council continues to urge Congress to move forward with highly-skilled immigration reforms that will ensure our region, which is home to a vibrant knowledge-based economy that depends on top-level talent, has access to highly-educated workers.
The CEO Council supports the following reforms:
- Establish a market-based H-1B cap and increase the employment-based green card cap;
- Exempt STEM graduates from U.S. universities from the annual employment-based visa cap if they have an offer of employment from a U.S. business in a related field;
- Streamline and improve the visa and green card application process;
- Eliminate the employment-based per-country visa cap;
- Use new company-paid visa and green card fees to help fund STEM programs in U.S. schools to train the next generation American workforce; and
- Provide visas and green cards to startup entrepreneurs and advance science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) degree holders from U.S. universities.
These reforms have bipartisan support in Congress. Given the prospects of a comprehensive immigration overhaul in this Congress, the CEO Council is advocating for stand-alone legislation that solely addresses the above highly-skilled reforms and enjoy support from both sides of the aisle.
Higher Education Act Reauthorization
The CEO Council supports the reauthorization of the Higher Education Act (HEA), which provides students with the opportunity to access, enter, and succeed in postsecondary learning. Even though effort to reauthorize the HEA failed in the last Congress, there are indications from congressional leaders that it remains a high priority in the 114th Congress.
Perkins Act Reauthorization
The CEO Council also wants Congress to reauthorize the Carl D. Perkins Career and Technical Education Act (Perkins). Perkins is an existing avenue that helps students prepare for secondary and postsecondary education by providing access to federal dollars to offset the cost of career and technical education (CTE) programs. CTE is an effective tool for improving student outcomes and helps prepare both secondary and postsecondary students with the necessary academic, technical, and employability skills required for successful entry into the workforce.
Perkins reauthorization should:
- Align CTE programs to the needs of the regional, state, and local labor market;
- Support effective and meaningful collaboration between secondary and postsecondary institutions and employers;
- Increase student participation in experiential learning opportunities such as industry internships, apprenticeships and mentorships; and
- Promote the use of industry-recognized credentials.
These improvements will more effectively spend federal dollars to help our nation’s students acquire the skills that they need and employers are demanding. We urge you to move forward with this important work and applaud Congress’ ongoing, bipartisan commitment to invest in our nation’s students, workers, and economy.
Delaware River Main Channel Deepening Project
The CEO Council applauds our Congressional Delegation for their work in securing nearly $100 million dollars over the next two years for the Delaware River Main Channel Deepening Project. Dredging the main channel from 40 to 45 feet will allow the Delaware River ports to accommodate today’s larger ships, reduce the cost of moving cargo through the ports, and enhance their competitiveness among other regional ports. This important announcement provides funding for continued work on this regional project, which ensures the future economic health and vitality of the Delaware River maritime complex. The CEO Council has long advocated for adequate funding of this project, which is about 80% complete or under contract, and on track for completion in 2017.