(CNSNews.com) - Legislation aimed at allowing more highly-skilled foreign workers to stay in the US to help ease a growing domestic shortage was announced in the Senate Wednesday by Republicans Bob Bennett and Orrin Hatch of Utah, Phil Gramm of Texas, Slade Gorton of Washington and Spencer Abraham of Michigan.
'This is one of the most important pieces of legislation that will come before this Congress," said Gorton in announcing "The American Competitiveness in the 21st Century Act," which allows 80,000 more foreign-born professionals to obtain H-1B visas for the year 2000.
Gramm told CNSNews.com that without allowing more foreign mathematicians, computer scientists and engineers to obtain visas to work and study in the US, the current economic boom is in danger of being shut down.
"This high-tech bottleneck could end up choking off this recovery," Gramm told CNSNews.com.
Abraham said the legislation would keep high-tech jobs in the US rather than have employers relocate out of the country.
"Individuals on H-1B visas are creating jobs, and we want to keep jobs and growth in the United States rather than encouraging employers to move jobs offshore," said Abraham.
The bill also provides funds to train US citizens in high-tech fields by requiring employers to pay a $500 fee per visa to fund training and scholarship programs for American workers, said Hatch.
Bennett said that there is bipartisan support for the bill that he said is essential to keep US firms from moving overseas.
"This work will get done," Bennett told CNSNews.com. "The only question is will it get done in the US or outside the US?"