High Tech Cash Could Sway House GOP On Immigration

House Republicans looking to continue collecting campaign donations from high tech giants like Facebook, Google, and Microsoft will come under increasing pressure to pass the immigration bill that Silicon Valley has pumped millions into promoting.

Reps. Eric Cantor (R-VA), Paul Ryan (R-WI), and Kevin McCarthy (R-CA) have all visited and met with Silicon Valley gurus at Facebook, Google, and others. And this year, Facebook has made campaign donations to GOP leaders like Cantor, Speaker John Boehner (R-OH), and Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY). Indeed, Mark Zuckerberg’s Fwd.us pro-immigration advocacy group has even cut ads backing Sens. Marco Rubio (R-FL) and Lindsey Graham (R-SC).

But the computer world’s cash and backing may be threatened if House Republicans stand strong against the Senate bill’s comprehensive immigration package. The Senate immigration bill includes almost everything the tech industry wanted, such as more green cards for high-skilled tech workers and a substantial increase in the number of annual H-1B visas allowed for foreign engineers.

“It would be a very different reception for them in the Valley if they were to go out there without having been able to accomplish this, which is an item high on the priority list for Silicon Valley, and it’s seen as doable,” one tech lobbyist told The Hill.    

In recent years, Silicon Valley has increasingly put its money where its politics are. Last year, tech companies spent a record-shattering $132.5 million on lobbying, and Facebook spent 20 times more on lobbying than it did just four years ago.  According to the Wall Street Journal, Zuckerberg’s group Fwd.us aims to raise $50 million to push the immigration bill’s passage.

Silicon Valley tech gurus will likely ratchet up House GOP enticements and threats as the immigration bill’s fate hangs in the balance. Already, however, some Republicans are trying to save face with Silicon Valley. Rep. Darrell Issa (R-CA) has advanced a proposal that would designate 55,000 green cards specifically for foreign graduates with advanced degrees in high-paying technical fields and boost the H-1B visa ceiling from 65,000 to 155,000.


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