Hope fades for US visa bid for skilled Irish workers

Efforts in Washington DC to secure passage of a bill that would help skilled Irish workers to get a US visa appear unable to overcome partisan obstacles in Congress.

While Democrats have loaned their support to the E3 visa initiative which has been pushed heavily by Irish American leaders, it was reported yesterday that the main Republican supporter Senator Scott Brown of Massachusetts has failed to gather enough backing from his own party.

A leading Republican lobbyist told the Irish Central website that relatively newly elected Brown “lacked clout” in the party.

“It is not Scott Brown’s fault, but he simply is not able to convince the old bulls in his own party that he needs this piece of legislation,” a Republican lobbyist told Irish Central.

A total of 53 Democrats have added their names to a bill which was originally put forward by New York Senator Charles Schumer and which would have granted 10,000 employment visas a year to qualified Irish workers.

Although Brown did convince some senators from his own party to support his amended version of the same bill, it is not enough to guarantee its passage.

Iowa Senator Charles Grassley proved to be a stubborn opponent and attempts to get him onside have not been successful while the Senate’s majority leader Mitch McConnell has been equally reluctant to use his influence.

Irish activists will now increase efforts for one last push before the presidential election gets into full swing.

“It can be done if a few of the veteran senators can be persuaded,” said the lobbyist who was quoted by Irish Central. “That is how the Australians did it, they got then-Senate majority leader Bill Frist to pass it. The Irish need that type of clout.”

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