Here are remarks Senator Leahy made at the Newseum yesterday regarding the Senate Judiciary’s agenda for the 112th Congress. I have inserted below his comments on promoting innovation and creating jobs.
Promoting Innovation and Creating Jobs
While we continue our work to protect the taxpayers’ dollars, we must also focus on protecting American jobs. Last year, the Senate Judiciary Committee unanimously supported bipartisan efforts to stop online criminals from stealing our Nation’s intellectual property. Online infringement costs our national economy billions of dollars every year. Our intellectual property-based businesses are among the most productive in our economy and among its best employers. We cannot stand by and see them ravaged, and American consumers subjected to counterfeits. We will renew our effort this year.
Among our top priorities is the Patent Reform Act. This bipartisan initiative to modernize our patent system has received considerable attention in the last several Congresses. Updating our antiquated patent system will keep America at the forefront of innovation and invention. It will help bolster our economy and protect jobs. And it will do so without adding a penny to the Nation’s deficit. I am encouraged that Chairman Lamar Smith of the House Judiciary Committee agrees that patent reform is sorely needed. In the interest of protecting American jobs and economic leadership, Democrats and Republicans need to complete this important legislative effort.
Another area in which Senator Grassley and I have worked together over the years has been in confronting anti-competitive business conduct, especially in agriculture. In the last two years, the Justice Department has become more aggressive in protecting competition. The competition workshops held across the country jointly by the Justice and Agriculture Departments were a start, and the steps taken by the Antitrust Division have been good. Now we hope to build on that as we confront overconcentration in agricultural businesses.
I also hope Congress will finally repeal the health insurance industry’s exemption from our antitrust laws. There was bipartisan support for this repeal in the last Congress. There is no place in our health insurance market for anticompetitive abuses, and repealing this exemption is an important step toward bringing competition to the health insurance market.
There are many other ways in which the Judiciary Committee can contribute to our economic recovery and the expansion of American jobs. We can strengthen programs like the EB-5 Regional Center Investment Program, which encourages foreign investment and spurs job creation in our state and local economies. Senator Grassley and I are both acutely aware of the unique challenges facing the agriculture industry, and I believe the Judiciary Committee should take a close look at how we can move forward with important immigration proposals like AgJOBS, and ways to improve visa programs like the H-2A program so that important agricultural industries such as the dairy industry have access to a lawful workforce.
There are encouraging economic signs, but our national economy is still recovering with too many people still out of work. In the interest of American workers, Democrats and Republicans need to work together on these measures that buttress key pillars of the American economy.