The House of Representatives passed HR 1629, the STEM Jobs Act of 2012 on Friday afternoon even as opposition to the funding of the measure was getting organized. The bill amends the Immigration and Nationality Act to make up to 55,000 visas available to qualified immigrants with certain advanced degrees who agree to work for at least five years for the petitioning employer or in the United States in a STEM field. STEM is a designation indicating advanced training in science, technology, engineering or math.
The bill, introduced by Lamar Smith (R-TX) originally dealt straightforwardly with the visa issue; however after it was sent to the House Rules Committee the bill was altered with what is generally known as a "payfor." This addition would require Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac to increase their guarantee fees to cover the cost of implementing the STEM Jobs Act.
On Thursday David H. Stevens, President and CEO of the Mortgage Bankers Association (MBA), urged Congress to reconsider their approach of using guarantee fees for this purpose. He said in part, "Fannie and Freddie's guarantee fees are supposed to be used to help offset the risk inherent in providing mortgages, and any increases to those fees should be used for that purpose. Dipping back into the housing piggybank to pay for unrelated policy items on the backs of America's homebuyers sends the wrong message at a time when the housing market is starting to show signs of recovery."
He said that lawmakers should reconsider diverting the fees from their intended purpose, adding "Increasing the cost of most mortgages will only add to the uncertainty that is plaguing the mortgage market and holding back a more a robust housing recovery."
Details regarding the amount of the G-Fee increase and the breakdown of the House vote are not yet available. We will provide more information as it becomes available.