Speaking after Eshoo's remarks, Sen. Jerry Moran (R-Kan.) announced that he and three colleagues will renew efforts to advance the Startup Act 2.0, which the group plans to reintroduce this month.
The legislation would seek to ease the regulatory burden on startup businesses, alter the tax code to encourage capital formation and accelerate the commercialization of university research, among other things. But the chief stumbling block the bill encountered in the last congress was the provision that would provide green cards for foreign workers trained in the STEM subjects of science, technology, engineering and math.
That issue is entangled with the broader subject of comprehensive immigration reform, and Moran suggested that some members of the Senate are opposing piecemeal proposals to expand visas to skilled foreign worker, which by itself is not particularly controversial, as a way to gain lever in the debate over comprehensive reform.
"We've been told that our legislation is something that could pass if we take out the issues with visas. It would stand a better chance if we were to remove the provisions related to entrepreneurial or STEM visas, and from my perspective that's the most important piece of this legislation," Moran said.
"I would hate to see once again that things that we broadly agree upon are never considered because there's a philosophy around here that if you can't do everything, you can't do anything," he added. "
And I would guess 80-plus percent of my colleagues would agree with me and the provisions of this legislation in regard to allowing folks who are highly educated and who have entrepreneurial skills to remain in the United States and put those skills and their intellect to work. And yet, the only reason that I can see that we can't advance that legislation is there are those who want to hold it hostage for other items in an immigration agenda," Moran said.
Joining Moran in backing the Startup Act 2.0 are Sens. Chris Coons (D-Del.), Marco Rubio (R-Fla.) and Mark Warner (D-Va.).