'Buy American' Comes to TARP
The U.S. Senate voted on Feb. 6 to put stricter limits on banks and other recipients of taxpayer money through the Troubled Assets Relief Program, or TARP, that want to hire high-skilled workers from overseas under the H-1B visa program. The Senate approved the measure – introduced by Senators Charles Grassley (R-Iowa) and Bernie Sanders (Independent-Vermont) – by voice vote as an amendment the economic stimulus package President Barack Obama is urging the Senate to pass.
The amendment that passed isn’t as tough as the one Grassley proposed on Feb. 5, which would have prohibited firms from hiring H-1Bs altogether. The modified amendment instead makes TARP recipients jump through extra hoops before they can hire those foreign workers. Specifically, it subjects recipients of TARP funds to the same rules so-called H-1B dependent employers must follow. (An H-1B dependent employer is one whose workers brought in with that visa comprise 15% or more of the employer's total workforce.)