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CNSI Leaders Urge Congress to Include Provisions in Competition Bill to Better Recruit and Retain STEM Talent

May 9, 2022

Press Release

For Immediate Release

Contact: Jill Jackson

WASHINGTON, D.C. – Earlier today, 49 senior national security officials—including 12 Council on National Security and Immigration (CNSI) leaders—sent a letter to the conference committee tasked with reconciling the House-passed America COMPETES Act and the Senate-passed USICA. The letter urges the conference committee’s members to include key provisions to better recruit and retain international STEM talent in the final bill. Specifically, section 80303 from the House bill would exempt advanced STEM degree holders from green card caps and ensure that the United States has the science and engineering talent it needs to compete with China.

The letter’s signatories are national security leaders who served in both Republican and Democratic administrations, testifying to the fact that “targeted STEM talent reforms carry deep bipartisan support.” They include cabinet officials, former members of Congress, and senior appointees who bring experience from across the national security world, including in the departments of Defense, Homeland Security, State, and Energy, as well as the Intelligence Community.

“The United States’s long-held technological advantage rests on its ability to recruit and retain the world’s best and brightest,” said Elaine Dezenski, a CNSI leader and former Acting and Deputy Assistant Secretary at the Department of Homeland Security. “We risk losing our edge over China if we leave in place current self-imposed bottlenecks on hiring the world’s best and brightest. The conferees have an incredible opportunity here to secure U.S. leadership.”

Retaining the House bill’s talent provisions is critical to ensuring that the bill’s investments in American technology and manufacturing will actually pay dividends. Major semiconductor companies have already had to delay the opening of new factories due to skilled labor shortages, and their ability to use further funding to bolster their US presence would be severely hampered if qualified workers remain in short supply. Indeed, talent shortages played a central role in pushing supply chains abroad in the first place.

As the letter states, “American leadership in technology, a cornerstone of competitiveness, rests in large part on our ability to leverage domestic and international talent. America’s efforts to onshore critical supply chains will not succeed unless it also onshores the talent necessary to compete.”  

CNSI is proud to be a part of this effort. Members of the Council who signed are Doug Baker, Randy Beardsworth, Barbara Comstock, Elaine Dezenski, Don Kent, Robert Mocny, Julie Myers Wood, Michael Neifach, Paul Rosenzweig, Stewart Verdery, Joe Whitley, and Jim Williams.

Read the full letter here.


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