Phil Gingrey (R)

Q1: Name:

Phil Gingrey

Q2: Currently in Georgia, and around the Nation, there is a shortage of talent to fill open technology positions. TAG feels part of this issue is due to current H1B Visa policies that hinder highly educated foreign students from staying within the United States to work. What is your position on H1B Visas as well as border protection and illegal immigration? Would you be willing to address the H1B visa issue as a standalone issue in congress?

Today, the immigration system favors extended family members and luck over skills-based immigration. While I believe our immigration system should be compassionate, it should also focus on our national-interests. It simply doesn’t make sense for the United States to train foreign students—often times with advanced degrees in high-skilled fields—only to send those students home or to our competitors to work. For that reason, I supported the STEM Jobs Act in the 112th Congress. This bill would have eliminated the diversity lottery program and instead allocated those 55,000 visas to foreign graduates of American universities with advanced degrees in STEM fields. We must also work to end visa and green card backlogs by streamlining and updating the system to more accurately match the employment and economic needs of the country. We must ensure that our immigration system does not displace or disadvantage American workers. To that end, I believe that the United States should implement mandatory employment verification, to ensure the legal status of those applying for and receiving jobs. I believe that it is imperative that we uphold the rule of law and enforce our current laws, so that we know which laws work and which don’t and can systematically reform the truly broken parts of the system.

Q3: Ensuring students have a 21st century digital infrastructure with access to broadband internet, and fourth generation (4G) wireless networks has become a critical issue nationally. How do you feel congress can address this access issue? Do you feel the federal and state government can work together to bring access to Georgia’s students?

I believe that Congress has taken a very important first step in meeting the growing demand of wireless networks with the passage of the Spectrum Act in 2012. This dual phase auction for spectrum, which is the first of its kind, will make available valuable swathes of spectrum for commercial use. Demand will only increase in the coming years, and the upcoming auctions will facilitate future growth. It is imperative that while the FCC is in the process of implementing the spectrum auctions, Congress – and particularly the House Energy and Commerce Committee of which I am a member – conducts the necessary oversight to ensure they operate smoothly. Additionally, there are areas for cooperation between the federal and state government on further broadband deployment for school use. To increase broadband access, we must fundamentally reform the E-Rate program at the FCC. Established by Congress nearly two decades ago and designed to provide discounts for access to technology – including broadband – the program has fallen woefully short of actually connecting students to the Internet. I support Commissioner Ajit Pai’s proposal to simplify the application process and provide more flexibility to local schools to ensure the dollars increase connectivity for students.

Q4: Cybersecurity has become an issue not only for consumers (i.e. Target’s recent data breach) but also for small and medium sized companies. Do you feel there should be a blanket approach to setting regulations regarding cybersecurity? Should companies be held accountable for the information they lose? How can our government assist in protecting consumers and business owners from these types of security breaches?

As networks have become more sophisticated, they have also become more susceptible to cyber- attacks as was demonstrated by the security breaches at Target and Neiman Marcus during the Christmas shopping season. Unfortunately, cyber-terrorism already poses a significant threat to our country. Congress and various federal agencies have already been the target of 1.8 million cyber-attacks, and U.S. Cyber Command has stated that $400 billion of U.S. trade secrets are stolen every year. Rather than implement blanket regulations that would likely become obsolete by the time they are implemented, we should focus on a structure of voluntary information sharing between the federal government and the private sector to prevent future cyber-attacks, while going to great lengths to protect individual privacy. That is precisely what the House did when it passed the Cyber Intelligence Sharing and Protection Act (CISPA) last year. Unfortunately, this is another example of reasonable legislation that continues to be held up in the Senate by Harry Reid. By implementing means by which networks can protect themselves from future attacks, we can hopefully avoid future data security breaches that are plaguing our economy.

Q5: STEM education has become an important part of Georgia schools and is crucial in filling US jobs. As a nation, the United States has dropped in the STEM rankings among other nations. How can we better prepare STEM students for the 21st century work force? How can congress assist schools in the implementation of STEM? What ideas do you have to make STEM a priority nationally?

As a Georgia Tech graduate and a former Marietta School Board Chairman, I believe that our education system needs to do more than prepare students for tests; it needs to prepare students for college and careers. The federal government must demonstrate a commitment to student success and encourage parental involvement. It is critical to ensure that the federal government focuses its investments on truly strengthening the education system and providing state and local education agencies with necessary flexibility. The federal government currently operates over one hundred STEM programs spanning multiple federal agencies, yet we are still not seeing the results necessary to retain our competitive advantage in STEM. Rather than continuing to create new programs, we need to reevaluate current STEM programs. One way to achieve this is to streamline existing programs and create flexibility so that the programs can be more effectively administered and monitored. It is critical that we get our students interested in STEM fields. To that end, I supported the creation of a STEM Competition by the House of Representatives. This competition creates a valuable chance to engage with students and educators and highlight the importance of STEM education by providing an incentive for students in a fun and innovative way. I also believe that career and technical education (CTE) programs are an important tool in preparing our nation’s students for the 21st century workforce. CTE programs can provide the opportunity for states to build upon institutions that already exist and have proven to be successful. However, in order to get federal funding for CTE programs under the Perkins Act, states have to comply with several reporting requirements, including many that are duplicative with other programs. Duplicative and burdensome federal mandates like these can make it more difficult for states to offer career training opportunities and for institutions to develop creative new CTE courses. The federal government also needs to provide states and local education agencies with the flexibility to work with local businesses and job creators in order to develop and implement programs that prepare students for in-demand jobs.

Q6: The House of Representatives passed a bill addressing patent reform (The Innovation Act HB3309, which was overwhelmingly bipartisan with a 325 yea-vote and 91 no-vote count), and the issue of patent trolling. Currently, the bill resides in the Senate. If this legislation is not passed during 2014, what steps will you take to insure this legislation continues to move through the process?

The Innovation Act is yet another example of commonsense, pro-growth legislation that Harry Reid has neglected to bring up in the Senate. Should the legislation not pass in 2014, Congress would have to restart the process, including by reintroducing the bill and moving it through both chambers. I would encourage the leadership in the Senate—regardless of the party—to bring up the multitude of job-creating, pro-growth reforms—like the Innovation Act—that the House has passed in the 113th Congress. I believe that the current litigation environment surrounding our patent system frequently stifles innovation, and at a substantial economic cost. Patent trolls hoard overly broad patents, but do not use them to make goods or services. Instead, these entities maliciously threaten small businesses, inventors, and even consumers through rampant and costly litigation abuse. It is necessary to reform this system to protect our small businesses and encourage entrepreneurship, and for that reason I would once again support the Innovation Act should it be reintroduced in the next Congress.

Q7: What ways do you feel our government and, you specifically, can encourage entrepreneurs and the entrepreneurial spirit in America? President Obama stated “We should be making it easier and faster to turn new ideas into new jobs and new businesses. And we should knock down any barriers that stand in the way. Because if we’re going to create jobs now and in the future, we’re going to have to out-build and out-educate and out-innovate every other country on Earth.” After reading this statement, what reactions do you have to his ideas on assisting entrepreneurs?

I agree with the President’s statement that we need to “knock down any barriers” that stand in the way of entrepreneurs, but unfortunately, I don’t feel that the President’s words match his actions. I believe that the United States is home to the best and brightest, and the government should be encouraging the growth of ideas rather than repeatedly putting up road blocks in the form of government overreach and tax burdens. Instead of saddling entrepreneurs, small businesses, and job creators with thousands of pages of new regulations, we need to get the government out of the way and create an environment where businesses can truly be born and grow. To that end, I supported the REINS Act, which would require Congress to vote and the President to sign-off on all new major rules—those with an annual economic impact of $100 million or more—before they can be imposed on the job creators, state and local governments, and the American people. As the co-founder and Co-Chairman of the Congressional Robotics Caucus and a member of the House STEM Caucus, I know that Americans have some incredible ideas, and that provided with the right tools, they can make those ideas a reality. To that end, I believe that a solid foundation in STEM education is one of the tools critical to fostering innovation and entrepreneurship.

Q8: If elected, how will you work to balance our nation’s budget? Will you support innovation and technology within the budget?

First and foremost, I support cutting spending in Washington because that presents the largest problem for our economy. By eliminating programs that are dormant or ineffective, we can better utilize our limited federal resources. When we must increase the debt ceiling, we must also include corresponding cuts to offset – dollar for dollar – the increased borrowing authority. If hardworking American families and small businesses – like my own medical practice of nearly 30 years – can balance their budgets, Washington should be able to do so as well. During my time in Congress, I have not only balanced my office budget, but returned $1.4 million in taxpayer dollars to the Treasury. I firmly believe that – like hardworking Americans across the country – the federal government must make sacrifices and cut wasteful spending so we don’t cripple future generations with the debt we are accumulating now.

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