Tech CEOs visit capital to lobby for tax reform, H-1B visas

More than 60 leaders of Silicon Valley companies descended on Washington, D.C.
Written by John Hazard, Contributor

More than 60 leaders of Silicon Valley companies descended on Washington, D.C. yesterday and today to lobby Congress and the Obama Administration on matters facing the technology sector.

The most pressing issues for the organization: corporate tax reform, foreign-trade agreements and greater access to skilled labor, which means relaxing H-1B visa quotas.

The TechNet delegation was expected to be led by co-chairmen John Chambers, CEO of Cisco and John Doer, a partner of Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers as well as representatives of Microsoft, NASDAQ OMX Group and the New York Stock Exchange.

Yesterday, the Senate passed "first-to-file" patent reform, which had been opposed by many in Silicon Valley.

Tops on the group's agenda this week is tax reform, according to a statement released yesterday.

America's outdated corporate tax code has put U.S. employers at a competitive disadvantage in today's global economy. Currently, more than $1 trillion in American businesses' earnings are trapped overseas. We should move now to allow these businesses the freedom to bring this money home and invest it back into our still fragile economy. The basic operating rules of our international tax system were put in place some 50 years ago and the last significant overhaul of our tax system in 1986, 25 years ago. The world has changed dramatically since that time. In fact, many TechNet companies did not exist 25 years ago. The time has come to modernize America's corporate tax system to keep the U.S. competitive in the new global economy.

H-1B visa reform has been a priority for TechNet and the group will ask policymakers to raise the current limit on this particular class of foreign-born workers. The group has long sought a doubling of the current limit to 70,000 visas.

Each year, roughly approximately 70,000 students earn a graduate degree in engineering. However, about half of all students in America's STEM graduate programs are foreign born who may not be allowed to work in the country once the program is completed. TechNet remains a strong proponent for the immigration reform necessary to keep the world's best and brightest in the United States. But TechNet recognizes that no one policy or program will remedy the engineering crisis. To build the kind of workforce that can fill the well-paying, highly-skilled jobs now being created, the United States must look at both short-term and long-term solutions. TechNet proposes to double the number of American engineers to approximately 70,000 each year to meet the growing demand for high skilled jobs in the next ten years.

TechNet will also lobby policy makers for:

Expected house calls the group will make while in the nation's capital (according to National Journal's Tech Daily Dose):

The executives will meet with a range of government officials, including, Energy Secretary Steven Chu, Chairman of the Council of Economic Advisers Austan Goolsbee, Education Secretary Arne Duncan, National Economic Council Director Gene Sperling and Office of Management and Budget Director Jack Lew. Federal Communications Commission Chairman Julius Genachowski and Federal Trade Commission Chairman Jon Leibowitz were also on the schedule.

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