05.21.20

Lankford Supports Healthcare Workforce Resilience Act

WASHINGTON, DC – Senator James Lankford (R-OK) today joined 15 new cosponsors of Senator David Perdue’s (R-GA) bipartisan Healthcare Workforce Resilience Act. Lankford’s support brings the total number of senators on the bill to 21. The Healthcare Workforce Resilience Act would recapture a limited number of unused visas from prior years and allocate them to doctors and nurses who can help in the fight against COVID-19. The bill will not increase current immigration numbers and will not displace American workers.

Perdue introduced the bill on May 5, 2020, along with Senators Dick Durbin (D-IL), Todd Young (R-IN), Chris Coons (D-DE), John Cornyn (R-TX), and Patrick Leahy (D-VT). In addition to Lankford, new cosponsors today include Senators Michael Bennet (D-CO), Roy Blunt (R-MO), Tom Carper (D-DE), Kevin Cramer (R-ND), Joni Ernst (R-IA), Dianne Feinstein (D-CA), Martin Heinrich (D-NM), Angus King (I-ME), Jerry Moran (R-KS), Rand Paul (R-KY), Jackie Rosen (D-NV), Mike Rounds (R-SD), Tom Udall (D-NM), and Ron Wyden (D-OR).

“This commonsense proposal ensures that unused green cards can be allocated to visa applicants in the healthcare industry, particularly to ease the nurse shortage in our nation during this historic coronavirus pandemic and its aftermath,” said Lankford. “This doesn’t add to our legal immigration numbers; it simply enables our nation to address worker shortages in vital areas with existing visas. We should always prioritize American workers first, but where we have serious labor challenges, we should ensure our healthcare industry can fill vital positions as quickly as possible. I am grateful for Senator Perdue’s leadership to help solve this issue and ensure our immigration programs function safely, efficiently, and effectively.”

“For the last decade, our country has faced a significant shortage of doctors and nurses, and the COVID-19 crisis has put our existing healthcare workforce under tremendous strain. This bill would simply reallocate a limited number of unused visas from prior years for doctors and nurses who are qualified to help in our fight against COVID-19,” said Perdue. “I personally want to thank my colleagues from both sides of the aisle for joining this effort. We all want to act quickly to support our healthcare workers and ensure that we are better prepared to handle a crisis like this going forward.”

 “The shortage of doctors and nurses in our country has only been magnified by the COVID-19 pandemic – this is especially true in our underserved communities,” said Bennet. “This bipartisan legislation would remove unnecessary barriers for medical professionals seeking a visa to come to the United States and help us stem the tide of this once-in-a-century public health crisis.”

“This bill will help reinforce our healthcare workforce in the critical moment we are in now and as we face future public health challenges,” said Blunt. “I appreciate all our health care providers are doing every day on the frontlines of this pandemic and urge our colleagues to join us in providing additional support to make sure people can get the care they need.”

“Something that most Americans may not know is that one in six health care and social service workers in this country is an immigrant to this country. That is 3.1 million people who have chosen to make the United States their home and are giving back to their country in profound ways. They are not a number. They are not a statistic. They are caring, courageous members of their communities and our own and they are helping us overcome this pandemic,” said Carper. “But the reality is, thousands of our immigrant health care workers are working on temporary visas. In order to ensure they can continue to help our nation in this fight against coronavirus, save lives, and protect our communities, we must address the green card backlog. That’s why I am proud to support this common sense, bipartisan bill that would ensure these men and women gain immediate access to the visas they need to continue their important work. We cannot win this fight without them.”

“With its rapid economic growth and rural landscape, North Dakota has relied heavily on legal immigrants to provide our communities with access to health care they would not otherwise get,” said Cramer. “The Healthcare Workforce Resilience Act gives our immigration system flexibility to recapture unused green cards and grant them to immigrant health care workers without making them endure long wait times caused by arbitrary per-country caps. I thank Senator Perdue for his leadership on this legislation, and I’m pleased to be a part of a growing number of senators who support it. I hope we pass it soon.” 

“As I’ve said throughout this pandemic, it’s going to take all of us working together to beat COVID-19, and we need to ensure all qualified and willing health care workers are able to assist where help is needed, particularly in our rural areas. This bipartisan proposal is a commonsense fix that will allow more doctors and nurses to help us defeat this virus,” said Ernst.  

“Immigrant nurses and doctors play a vital role in New Mexico’s healthcare system, especially in rural and tribal communities,” said Heinrich. “Too many health care professionals in our country are working with temporary visas, and have approved immigrant petitions, but face an increasing backlog for green cards. I am proud to join the charge for the Healthcare Workforce Resilience Act to recapture thousands of unused, congressionally-authorized immigrant visas and bolster the nation’s health care workforce during the COVID-19 pandemic. I will keep doing everything in my power to fight for a strong public health response that is based in science and ensure that health care systems in New Mexico have the personnel and support they need.”

“This pandemic is stretching America’s public health workforce to the breaking point – particularly in the rural communities where healthcare resources were maxed out before the onset of coronavirus,” said King. “We must have an all hands on deck approach here in terms of deploying qualified healthcare professionals to fully confront this threat which has cost us 73 Maine lives as of today, and over 90,000 nationwide. This bill will increase the numbers of doctors, nurses and health professionals ready and willing to step up and protect American lives. Now more than ever, we must make sure we are exhausting all our options of maximizing the number of smart, hardworking health professionals to join the fight of our lifetimes.”

“I’m proud to see so many organizations announce their support for this bipartisan legislation to address our medical professionals shortage,” said Rosen. “Our nation’s severe shortage of doctors and nurses has only been exacerbated by the coronavirus pandemic and this is threatening to create a public health crisis of its own. We must address this with bold, innovative legislation like the Healthcare Workforce Resilience Act that would recapture unused visas from previous years to bring more physicians and nurses into our hospitals. I will continue working on legislation that ensures we have the health care workforce we need to combat this pandemic.”

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