It passed by unanimous consent and no one spoke against it, but it's called a debate anyway. Here is what happened on the floor:

The Senator
from Iowa [Mr. Harkin], for Mr. Schumer, for himself and Mrs.
Hutchison, proposes an amendment numbered 3404 to amendment No. 3325.


 



   The amendment is as follows:

(Purpose: To increase the domestic supply of nurses and physical
therapists, and for other purposes)

    On page 126, between lines 7 and 8, add the following:



    Sec. 521. Section 106(d) of the American Competitiveness in the
Twenty-first Century Act of 2000 (Public Law 106-313; 8 U.S.C. 1153 note) is
amended--



    (1) in paragraph (1)--



    (A) by inserting ``1996, 1997,'' after ``available in fiscal year''; and



    (B) by inserting ``group I,'' after ``schedule A,'';



    (2) in paragraph (2)(A), by inserting ``1996, 1997, and'' after
``available in fiscal years''; and



    (3) by adding at the end the following:



    ``(4) PETITIONS.--The Secretary of Homeland Security shall provide
a process for reviewing and acting upon petitions with respect to immigrants
described in schedule A not later than 30 days after the date on which a
completed petition has been filed.''.



   AMENDMENT NO. 3449 TO AMENDMENT NO. 3404

(Purpose: To increase the number of nursing faculty and students in the
United States, to encourage global health care cooperation, and for other
purposes)

   Mr. HARKIN. Mr. President, I call up the Durbin amendment.



   The PRESIDING OFFICER. The clerk will report.



   The assistant legislative clerk read as follows:



 



   The Senator from Iowa [Mr. Harkin], for Mr. Durbin,
proposes an amendment numbered 3449 to amendment No. 3404.



 



   (The amendment is printed in today's Record under ``Text of
Amendments.'')



   Mr. DURBIN. Mr. President, my second degree amendment reflects my belief
that we cannot continue to import nurses from other countries without also
taking steps to step up capacity for training nurses here in the U.S. We all
know that the United States faces a serious shortage of qualified nurses.
Projections show that by the year 2020, our country will fall short of the
nurses we need by one million nurses.



   Why do we have this looming shortage? Certainly it is due in part to our
growing and aging population. But there are also structural problems with the
domestic nursing system that limit the number of nurses we educate and train in
this country. The main structural problems are an insufficient number of nurse
educators and a shortage of clinical space for training. An American Association
of Colleges of Nursing survey showed that nursing colleges denied admission to
nearly 43,000 qualified applicants in 2006 academic year. The top reasons these
applications were not accepted were insufficient faculty and not enough
admissions slots. This is a bottleneck that is stifling the supply of nurses in
this country. And we need to fix it.



   We need to devote resources to training and hiring new nursing faculty and
expanding clinical space for nursing schools so they can accept more qualified
students. These investments will exponentially increase the number of trained
American nurses. The Schumer-Hutchison amendment's approach to fixing our
nursing shortage is to allow up to 61,000 foreign nurses to enter the country as
green card holders. Importing these thousands of foreign nurses is only a
band-aid solution to our projected nursing shortage of
million. But it is also a step that deflates any momentum towards finding
real solutions for our domestic nursing crisis. We have done these nursing visa
recaptures before. In fact, 2 years ago in 2005, the President signed into law a
recapture of 50,000 nursing visas as part of that year's Emergency Supplemental
Appropriations Act. Did this 2005 visa recapture stop the nursing shortage? Of
course not. It was a band-aid solution. But it did undermine momentum for
efforts to undertake the real reform that we know we need. And so here we are
again, 2 years later, with hospitals desperate for more nurses.



   My second degree amendment is a reasonable compromise that will help both
the hospitals in the short term and the domestic nursing supply in the long
term. My amendment would require employers who successfully petition for a
recaptured nursing green card to pay a $1,500 fee.



   This fee would be used to fund a grant program that would provide grants
to U.S. nursing schools for hiring nurse faculty, expanding training capacity,
and recruiting more students. $1,500 is not a large fee--hospitals often spend
many times that amount for the services of foreign nurse recruiting companies.
However, under my amendment, hospitals that are in dire financial straits, like
Health Professional Shortage Area facilities and Louisiana hospitals still
recovering from Hurricanes Katrina and Rita, would receive a waiver from paying
this fee. Neither does my amendment also impose the fee on the dependents of any
nurses who receive a recaptured green card.



   Again, the Durbin 2nd degree amendment is a reasonable compromise that
will help both the hospitals in the short term and the domestic nursing supply
in the long term. It will allow for the additional nursing green cards to
address immediate needs, but it will also take steps that will put the American
nursing profession on a path to sustainability. My amendment also contains two
measured steps to enhance global healthcare cooperation and to safeguard against
a crippling brain drain of foreign healthcare workers from countries where they
are critically needed. The first provision would allow a healthcare worker who
is a legal permanent resident in the U.S. to temporarily provide healthcare
services in a country that is underdeveloped or that has suffered a disaster or
public health emergency--like the 2004 tsunami--without jeopardizing his or her
immigration status in the U.S. The second provision would require a foreigner
who is petitioning to work in the U.S. as a health care worker to attest that he
or she has satisfied any outstanding commitment to his or her home country under
which the foreigner received money for medical training in return for a
commitment to work in that country for a period of years. The goal of this
second provision is to ensure that foreign countries do not invest money in
healthcare workers who then renege on commitments to work in their country
without satisfying their commitment in some way, such as by a new voluntary
agreement. There is a waiver available in case of coercion by the home country
government. My amendment is strongly supported by the American Nurses
Association and the American Association of Nursing Colleges.



   I urge my colleagues to support the domestic nursing profession and
support global healthcare cooperation. I urge passage of my amendment.



   Mr. HARKIN. All time is yielded back.



   The PRESIDING OFFICER. If all time is yielded back, without objection the
second-degree amendment is agreed to.



   The amendment (No. 3449) was agreed to.



   The PRESIDING OFFICER. Without objection, the amendment, No. 3404, as
amended, is agreed to.



   The amendment (No. 3404), as amended, was agreed to.



   Mr. HARKIN. Mr. President, I move to reconsider the vote.



   Mr. DURBIN. I move to lay that motion on the table.



   The motion to lay on the table was agreed to.



      The PRESIDING OFFICER. All time is yielded back. Without objection, the
amendment is agreed to.