Two of six senators, all Republican, on Monday, released their hold on the E3 visa bill which would mean 5,000 work visas a year to Ireland. Four senators still maintained a hold.
The most significant switch to supporting the bill was by Chuck Grassley, Chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee, who released his hold, as did Senator Mike Enzi of Wyoming.
The four left are Johnny Isakson of Georgia; James Lankford of Oklahoma; Thom Tillis of North Carolina and Roy Blunt of Missouri.
They are being lobbied heavily by local Irish groups in each state led by the Ancient Order of Hibernians, the largest Irish group in the US. If the Irish succeed, they expect the bill to come to the floor next week because this week’s agenda has been sharply curtailed following the death of President H.W. Bush.
Heading State side for meetings about the Irish E3 visa legislation. pic.twitter.com/KxCmnxQU5o— Senator Mark Daly (@SenatorMarkDaly) December 3, 2018
The White House has also become involved with a letter to the outstanding hold-outs making it clear that President Trump backs E3s for Ireland.
A particular concern is being expressed about Georgia Senator Johnny Isakson who wishes to add South Korea to the E3 list, a step bitterly opposed by the Irish.
South Korean car company KIA has a large plant in West Point, Georgia, which may explain the Isakson connection.
Meeting Senator Schumer’s State Director Martin Brennan on E3 visa for Ireland— Senator Mark Daly (@SenatorMarkDaly) December 3, 2018
Consul Gen. Ciaran Madden, Senator Lawless, Chair Foreign Affairs Ctte Brendan Smith, Deputy Consul Gen. Emier Friel. State Director Martin Brennan, Sean Crowe TD , Senator Mark Daly @IrishCentral pic.twitter.com/1jnJIwHV8P
Ireland has an agreement with Australia to fill the unused E3 visas which allow working access to the United States legally. Australia currently uses about 5,000 of the 10,500 given out every year.
After it passed the House unanimously, the bill is now in the Senate, where all Democrats have agreed to pass it while the four Republican senators have placed a hold. The bill needs unanimous consent to pass and be signed by the president.
White House leaders of the effort include Chief of Staff John Kelly and Mick Mulvaney, head of Management and Budget.
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