MU Law has just returned from Washington DC where we, along with a group of about ten stakeholders, met with close to twenty Senators to discuss how healthcare immigration might fit into the forthcoming Senate Comprehensive Immigration Bill. The discussions were largely productive with most Senator's staffs in favor of the bill. The consensus on The Hill is that the Senate's version of CIR is in the final stages of drafting and should be released in early to mid-April.
The particulars of the Senate CIR bill are still under lock and key. The most controversial pieces of the bill have not yet been finalized. One of the most difficult discussion is on a Guest Worker program. Most Senators believe that for a Comprehensive Immigration bill to be successful it must contain a way for US employers to sponsor foreign workers who do not fit into the H-1B category. The debate centers on where to draw the line. Depending on where the line is drawn a Guest Worker program could qualify a range of healthcare workers for Guest Worker sponsorship.
If the Senate can reach an agreement and a bill is released, the focus will turn to the House of Representatives. The House has its own group working on a bill. The conventional wisdom seems to be that the House will take the Senate's bill and then work on a similar but not identical bill. If the House can pass a similar CIR bill, then a Conference Committee will be formed.
The Conference Committee will consist of members of both the Senate and House. Their goal is to remedy inconsistencies between the two bills. If that Conference Committee can reach an agreement, the bill will pass both chambers of Congress and presented to President Obama. The President is expected to sign into law any reasonable bill that is presented to him.