During KU visit, Sen. Moran says compromise needed to avoid another shutdown; learns of visa struggles for students

photo by: Dylan Lysen

Republican U.S. Sen. Jerry Moran, center, listens to University of Kansas Department of Physics faculty members Hume A. Feldman, left, Christophe Royon, right, and Hui Zhao, foreground. Moran visited the KU campus Monday, Jan. 28, 2019, to tour the university's Integrated Science Building.

After the longest government shutdown in U.S. history ended on Friday, U.S. Sen. Jerry Moran, R-Kansas, said Monday that Congress needed to work toward a compromise to avoid another shutdown in just a few weeks.

“It seems to me this should be a normal congressional negotiation, which is a give-and-take and we get an outcome where people can claim victory and no one is terribly upset,” Moran said. “That’s the way the legislative process has worked over the years, and that’s the way it can work today.”

Moran answered the Journal-World’s questions on the possibility of another shutdown after visiting the University of Kansas’ Integrated Science Building, which houses KU’s biology, chemistry and physics and astronomy departments. On the tour, faculty members made the case for more funding in science and the need for education and work visas to keep the university competitive in those fields.

The federal government reopened Friday after a 35-day partial shutdown. President Donald Trump said Friday afternoon that he would sign legislation ending the shutdown until Feb. 15 and that he would try again to persuade lawmakers to finance his long-sought southern border wall, which has been a major part of his hard-line stance on immigration. The deal he reached with congressional leaders to reopen the government contained no new money for the wall.

When asked whether funding for a wall was mandatory to avoid another shutdown in coming weeks, Moran pointed to Trump’s insistence that he would veto any bill that lacked wall funding.

“A bill would take his signature (to become law),” Moran said. “I think if we could get out of the vernacular of what words we use and figure out how we can improve border security, I think that would be a desirable outcome.”

Immigration to the U.S. was also on the mind of KU faculty during Moran’s visit.

During the tour, faculty members explained how hard it is for students to get visas to attend universities in the United States. Christophe Royon, a university distinguished professor who is from France, said a significant number of faculty and students in the science programs are foreign-born.

Hume Feldman, professor and chair of the KU physics and astronomy department, said if foreign-born students attend a college in the U.S. with a student visa, they must leave the country immediately after they are done with school. Those students would need to move back to their home countries before they could apply for a work visa in the U.S. Additionally, those students likely won’t apply for a visa until they have a job lined up, but finding a job in the U.S. while outside of the country is much more difficult.

Because of this, some foreign-born students would rather attend universities in Europe to avoid the hassle, he said.

The American Physical Society, an organization representing physicists, is pushing for immigration reform that would include a “dual intent” visa, which, instead of expiring immediately, would allow students to stay in the U.S. to search for a job when their university studies end.

Moran said he has introduced legislation for an entrepreneurial visa that he said would make it easier for foreign-born students to stay in the U.S. after graduation.

“If you have an idea you want to take to market, we want you to stay in the United States and pursue that,” he said. “Bring your (idea) and put the work in pursuing the American dream.”

Prior to the tour, Moran told the group he was passionate about the science programs housed in the building because they could add an additional leg to the “economic stool” of Kansas, which includes the agriculture, airplane manufacturing and oil and gas industries. He said KU may educate a lot of students, but many of them often fill jobs elsewhere.

“In developing an educational system here, I’m hoping we can expand career and vocational opportunities for Kansans,” he said. “This place, Kansas, needs to create opportunities for people who have an intellect, talent and capabilities in science, mathematics, engineering and research.”

Contact Dylan Lysen

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