Sunday, July 18, 2021By:
This week consisted primarily of attending science policy-oriented hearings and polishing my first bulletin, coauthored with my mentor, on the House Science Committee’s wildfire science hearing. On Tuesday, I attended a Brookings Institution talk titled, “Leveraging regional tech hubs to advance economic inclusion.” In her statement, Rep. Haley Stevens (D-MI) argued for broad congressional support of regions that qualify as emerging leaders in the tech sector. Unfortunately, Stevens did not preview her upcoming legislation on the topic during her portion of the talk, so I will likely not be able to use my meeting recap for a bulletin.
I then turned to watching and taking notes on the House Judiciary Committee's immigration policy hearing, which I blurbed recently in the Weekly. During the hearing, I learned a great deal about immigration policies that impact those in STEM professions. The Q&A period at the end was noticeably more partisan than most of the witnesses’ testimonies that I read in preparation for the hearing. One witness described what he views as abuses to the Optional Practical Training program, which grants an extension to those with student visas to acquire practical work experience in their fields of interest. He lamented the loose definition of a STEM degree in the program eligibility guidelines, which, he claimed, created problematic loopholes. Others spoke about the fact that 65%-70% of HlB visa requests are randomly denied, which has created a scarcity of workers in critical STEM fields. The hearing enlightened me to a variety of STEM policy-specific issues in the U.S. immigration system.
On a personal note, I wanted to mention a realization I had mid-week while I was watching the House Appropriations Committee Chairwoman Rosa DeLauro (D-CT) defend the elimination of the Hyde Amendment from the HHS appropriations bill. The Hyde Amendment bans federal funding of abortions, meaning that many low-income people who rely upon Medicaid cannot access abortions unless they secure alternative sources of funding. My grandpa, who passed away in the middle of the pandemic last January, was a vocal supporter of DeLauro’s efforts to address the American wealth gap. About a year before he passed, he gifted me a copy of DeLauro’s book, The Least Among Us. I dug the book out from my bookshelf, expecting to find an inscription from my grandfather. Instead, I discovered that he had DeLauro inscribe the book for me at an event he attended. The inscription reads:
I hope you enjoy my take on waging the battle for the vulnerable. We need the voices of young people like yourself--you can make a difference.
Until next week,