The passage of the E3 Irish visa bill is getting closer this week but there is still opposition from three senators. The visa bill needs a unanimous vote to pass.
Georgia Senator Johnny Isakson has released his hold on the E3 visa bill, which would see 5,000 work visas assigned for Ireland every year.
Isakson’s decision leaves just three senators, all Republicans, as the last hurdle for passage of the E3. The bill already passed the House with no dissenting vote. Earlier, this week there were six holds on the bill.
Isakson had been considered the toughest hold to overcome as he sought inclusion for South Korea in the bill, but he now has backed off. Kia Motors from South Korea have a huge plant in his state.
The three senators remaining are Roy Blunt of Missouri, James Lankford of Oklahoma, and Thom Tillis of North Carolina.
It is believed two of the three Senators are waiting to receive assurance from Australian representatives that they agree with the decision to allow Irish to pick up the unused portion of the 10,500 E3 annual visas, which have been exclusive to Australia until this point.
The third Republican senator is still causing concern as his reasons for the hold are not known.
However, John Deasy, special envoy on the issue and a member of the Irish parliament is quietly confident that an agreement can be reached.
Deasy, very much the driving force behind the E3 strategy, says that nothing is taken for granted at this stage.
“We are not counting any chickens,” he told IrishCentral.
A prudent step, given how many times Irish hopes have been dashed before.
The Irish Embassy and Irish American organizations such as the Ancient Order of Hibernians, the Irish Lobby for Immigration Reform, and the Irish overseas Senator Billy Lawless have also been to the forefront and have been working hard to get the visa bill over the line.
There is an overall agreement that if the unanimous vote with no holds is reached that the bill should be presented to the Senate as soon as possible.
That could mean the bill going to President Donald Trump late this week or more likely, early next week.
President Trump has made clear his support for the bill along with several key White House staffers. Head of Management and Budget Mike Mulvaney and Chief of Staff General John Kelly have also been vocal about their support for the bill.