Talking Tech With Rep. Darrell Issa


U.S. Rep. Darrell Issa (R-Calif.) is leading the 115th Congress’s tech-heavy agenda with an effort to raise the salary floor for some workers on high-skilled labor visas to $100,000.

Issa, who chairs the House Judiciary Courts, Intellectual Property and the Internet Subcommittee, spoke with Bloomberg BNA at his Capitol Hill office about high-skilled immigration, as well as the outlook for intellectual property legislation and tech industry interests in the new Republican Trump administration.

Issa, in gunning to pass his Protect and Grow American Jobs Act in the first 100 days of Donald Trump’s presidency, is targeting one of the tech industry’s biggest concerns—a shortage of high-skilled labor visas, or H-1Bs.

Issa says his bill would free up visa slots by making it more expensive to hire foreign labor without first ensuring U.S. workers won’t be displaced. His proposal would raise the salary floor threshold from $60,000 to $100,000 for heavy users of the H-1B program seeking to avoid this labor-market test requirement.

The bill would prevent U.S. companies from hiring foreign tech workers at lower wages than their American counterparts, Issa said. But some opponents say it does not go far enough, and that all H-1B employers should attest that foreign hires won’t uproot U.S. workers.

Issa, who holds dozens of patents as a vehicle anti-theft device entrepreneur, said he’s optimistic this Congress will also pass legislation to address patent litigation abuses. The nine–term lawmaker may try to break up a sweeping patent measure, sponsored in the last Congress by Judiciary Chairman Bob Goodlatte (R-Va.), in hopes that some of its smaller provisions will pass.

To watch Bloomberg BNA’s interview with Issa, click on Part I, here, and Part II, here.