Congress to tackle incumbent issues
- By William Matthews
- Dec 18, 2000
When the 107th Congress convenes in January, it will confront many of the
same information technology issues that preoccupied the 106th.
From admitting more foreign IT workers to Internet taxation to online privacy,
many of the topics will be familiar. But the way Congress tackles them might
be a bit different.
Consider the issue of foreign IT workers. In response to loud complaints
about worker shortages, lawmakers in the 106th Congress increased the number
of foreign workers who could come into the United States for IT jobs.
But there's still a critical shortage of IT workers, said Darrel Issa, a
newly elected Republican representative from Southern California. Even with
the developing economic slowdown, high-technology industries will have a
tough time filling vacant jobs, he said. Raising the foreign worker visa
cap will be a priority for both houses of Congress, he said.
However, this time lawmakers are likely to be receptive to a longer-term
solution. So during the 107th Congress, industry organizations will be pushing
for major improvements in technology education, said Connie Correll, communications
director for the Information Technology Industry Council.
Look for increased congressional interest in programs to increase training
for teachers, IT equipment in classrooms and more technology emphasis in
school curriculums, she said. "It's a huge issue for our companies." And
chances for meaningful education legislation are improved by the presidential
election, which made education a key issue.
Privacy is certain to be another key issue for the 107th Congress. Several
lawmakers campaigned on the issue of improving Internet privacy, including
incoming Sens. Bill Nelson (D-Fla.), Maria Cantwell (D-Wash.), Conrad Burns
(R-Mont.) and even Hillary Rodham Clinton (D-N.Y.).
Other issues expected to reappear before Congress next year include:
* Internet taxation: Businesses want the current moratorium extended.
* Export controls: Businesses want them eased.
* E-government: Congress may fund programs to put government services online.
Then, there is a new issue that is certain to get congressional attention:
Issa, who comes to Congress as a high-tech entrepreneur and chairman of
the Consumer Electronics Association, predicts
Congress will pursue developing a nationwide computer database of voters,
computerized voting and common voting protocols nationwide.
Bills already have been introduced to fund development and acquisition of
new voting technology.