3:58 PM EDT
Eric Cantor, R-VA 7th

Mr. CANTOR. I thank the gentleman from Texas for his leadership on this bill.

Mr. Speaker, since we were elected to the majority, the House Republicans have put forward solutions to spur job creation and economic growth by, frankly, focusing on and helping small businesses get off the ground to grow and hire. We've worked hard to drive small business job creation and innovation by enacting patent reform, the JOBS Act, and the removal of regulatory and tax burdens that are impeding small businesses' growth.

The STEM Jobs Act we are voting on today is part of our commitment to help small businesses, to help them create jobs by ensuring that top foreign students in American universities have the opportunity to launch or work for American businesses.

The bipartisan STEM Jobs Act takes 55,000 visas currently awarded based on a lottery and instead awards them to foreign graduates of U.S. universities with advanced degrees in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics. This legislation provides students with the opportunity to stay here in America where they can contribute to the American economy rather than leaving for other countries, taking their venture capital with them to compete against America and her businesses.

[Time: 16:00]

I want to thank the gentleman from Texas, Chairman Smith, as well as Congressman Henry Cuellar for introducing this legislation. I'd also like to note that Congressman Bob Goodlatte of Virginia and Congressman RAÚL LABRADOR from Idaho have also been instrumental in getting us here.

But there's a reason why we in America are the world's leading innovators and have within our borders the world's leading innovators and why they choose to launch their companies here. Our Nation offers immense opportunities to those who come to our shores.

My grandparents, just like so many others who immigrated to America, knew what foreign students know today: that America has always been a place which puts a premium on ensuring that, no matter who you are or where you're from, everyone here should have the opportunity to go and achieve and earn success.

According to the Partnership for a New American Economy, 40 percent of Fortune 500 companies were founded by immigrants or their children. So we must start to take advantage of our status as a destination for the world's best and brightest. We must continue to do that. We want job creation and innovators to stay here and help us compete.

Over the past two decades, the number of international graduate students enrolled in our Nation's top-notch universities has grown. But, as the Congressional Research Service shows, the percentage of these students who gain visas has largely remained the same since 1990. The STEM Jobs Act says to our foreign graduates, You choose America and America chooses you.

More talent in our workforce will mean more innovation, more start-ups, more entrepreneurship, more jobs and a better economy. It's time our visa system adopted this commonsense advancement. It's time for us to pass this bill, Mr. Speaker, and I hope there is a broad bipartisan base of support when the vote occurs.