Senator Orrin Hatch unveiled an ambitious agenda to boost the US tech industry which included proposed reforms to contentious issues like immigration and corporate tax policy. In a speech announcing an “innovation agenda” for the new congress, the senator also touted his ties with the president trump and said he would act as a bridge between the tech industry and the white house. Currently American companies are being taxed on their worldwide incomes, regardless of from where the income has come.
Such a shift in the tax system could lead the tech companies to stop using intellectual property right gimmicks to park their profit overseas, a controversial practice that led the firms like apple and Google to amass foreign cash holds in hundred billions.
Issue of H1-B Visas
The hatch plan also take the issue of H1-B visa , which the tech companies rely on to hire the foreign workers , but are also a bug bear for trumps and immigration and labor critics, who argues visa program undercut American jobs.
In his speech, Hatch took aim at a “handful actors” who manipulate the H1-B program to replace US workers with cheap labor. Though he did not mention any specific companies, Hatch’s comment appear to be swipe at firms like Infosys and Wipro that obtain H1-B visa in large batches to supply IT workers for the companies like India.
Hatch also urged to Congress to rely on the immigration to address a U.S. skill shortage in math and science. The proposed agenda also calls for congress to rein in nuisance patent lawsuits, a longtime thorn in the side of tech industry by putting an end to forum shopping by plaintiffs.
Hatch also took up another intellectual property issue by calling for congress to exert more control over copyright office and for the office to setup digitization and communication effort. Other opposed measures for innovation agenda include fostering an open internet, and helping US companies navigate international data storage laws. Many of the agenda items are likely to earn broad support in tech industry and beyond. But it is unclear Hatch and congressional leaders will be able to get any of the past, given the tumultuous political climate and ongoing strife between trump and members of Republican Party.