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Connecticut`s Rep. Courtney Seeks Probe Of Pfizer, But The Real Problem Is Still In Congress
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December 09, 2008, 04:07 AM
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Have you noticed that when a politician wants to pass the buck on a problem often the response is to order a new government study?

This time around U.S. Rep. Joe Courtney (D-CT) wants to be perceived as doing something about the fiasco at Pfizer by calling for a government investigation of the H-1B visa program. Apparently the Americans at Pfizer who are being forced to train their H-1B replacements are raising enough of a fuss to get the Congress critters nervous.

U.S. Rep. Joe Courtney said Friday he will be calling for a government investigation of a guestworker visa program that critics say has allowed multinational corporations such as Pfizer Inc. to outsource thousands of American jobs to foreign nations over the past two decades.

Courtney, D-2nd District, said his call for a probe by the Government Accountability Office - Congress`s investigatory arm - is tied to his concern that the H-1B visa program is being misused by corporations at the expense of American workers. His decision to ask for a GAO investigation comes after a series of reports in The Day outlining allegations that Pfizer is using large numbers of foreign workers at their R&D campuses in Groton and New London in a systematic effort to replace their local information-technology contracting force. Courtney seeks probe of visa program tied to outsourcing, By Lee Howard, TheDay.com, December 6, 2008]

While it`s wonderful that Courtney wants to do another GAO study of H-1B, he could use the ones that have already been completed, and then he could actually propose legislation that actually does something to alleviate the problems. Come to think of it, if Courtney really wanted to do something about H-1B he could sponsor a House version of the bill in the Senate by Durbin/Grassley (S. 1035).

The sad reality for the Pfizer people is that studies and new legislation will come far too late to save what`s left of the jobs there. It`s far too late for political posturing.

There are several good GAO studies on H-1B—the problem is that everyone in Congress ignores them. Norm Matloff described what happened in 2000 when Congress rammed the H-1B cap increase down our throats (AC 21 which raised the cap to 195,000 per year):

About a month before the vote on AC 21, the GAO released a report which was highly critical of the H-1B program. Yet the entire 19,000-word discussion of the bill in the Senate consisted of praise for the bill; the GAO report was not mentioned even once.[On The Need For Reform Of The H-1B Non-Immigrant Work Visa In Computer-Related Occupations, December 12, 2003 (PDF)]
So why, may I ask, does Courtney want the GAO to do another report that will be universally ignored by Congress?

Here are some examples of GAO reports, and there have been many others by government agencies that came to similar conclusions.

UPDATE: So far Courtney`s website doesn`t say anything about a GAO investigation, so he may have been blowing hot air last week. I also checked the Congressional Record and couldn`t find any mention of Courtney asking for an investigation.