GOP Senator Scott Brown now the key figure in Irish E3 visa battle
Hopes of a bill signing before St.Patrick’s Day still very much alive
Brown will need all the Irish American support he can get which is where passage of the E3 bill becomes important.
Irish lobbyists believe that Brown can make a compelling case to both Senator Grassley and Senate Minority leader Mitch McConnell that passage of the E3 visa bill is important for his re-election race.
Grassley is seeking a change in the H1B visa scheme, which allows companies to recruit workers overseas, which is not part of the current bill. However, McConnell has made it clear, according to sources, that he has no problem with the bill if Grassley allows it to go to the floor.
Both the Irish government and the ILIR believe that Brown is the key to the bill and that he can convince Grassley that he needs it in order to keep the Massachusetts senate seat he won so unexpectedly after Ted Kennedy died.
The hi-tech lobby is also strongly behind the bill and putting pressure on Republicans to pass it.
Grassley, from Iowa however, has very little of a hi-tech constituency. Though he visited Ireland last year and was wined and dined by the Irish government he has given little indication that the Irish lobby can influence him either.
Senator Patrick Leahy, head of the Judiciary Committee in the senate who is Grassley’s Democratic counterpart is also a key figure who has an important relationship with Grassley, the ranking Republican member
This week Irish Foreign Minster Eamon Gilmore will be in Washington and is expected to meet with Grassley and Brown and McConnell. That meeting could be critical to the future of the bill.
But it is Brown that everyone will be watching these next two weeks and the run-in to St.Patrick’s Day . He has been responsive so far to the ILIR in his state and to the Irish government and it remains to be seen if he will now make the extra push to bring Grassley on side.
ILRI lobbyist and former Congressman Bruce Morrison says Brown is a key. “We need Scott Brown to deliver on this, “ he says. “It is a win-win for him if he does.”
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