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By: Matt Rybaltowski of Forbes

In reaching a comprehensive gaming deal with Major League Baseball earlier this week, MGM Resorts International reverted back to a playbook that has dictated the company's sports betting strategy in the brief Post-PASPA era.

The partnership, which designates MGM Resorts as the first-ever official gaming partner of the league, follows similar deals with the NBA and the NHL over the last four months. MGM Resorts, one of the world's largest gaming operators, owns the distinction of being the only company in the casino industry to form partnerships with all three leagues. Though MGM  completed all three deals on a non-exclusive basis, it remains the lone sports book operator to land a sponsorship deal with a Big Four professional sports league since the Supreme Court struck down a federal ban on sports betting in May.

With the three leagues on board, MGM has yet to hook the big fish in the pond. On Wednesday, MGM Resorts International CEO Jim Murren delivered a keynote address at the ICE Sports Betting USA Conference in New York. Predictably, Murren was peppered with questions on MGM's relationship with the NFL. While Murren noted that MGM shares a philosophical alignment on sports betting with the three aforementioned leagues, the same can not be said for the NFL.

Without enumerating all of the differences between the sides, Murren addressed a key sticking point during his appearance. While the NFL has urged Congress to enact uniform standards for states that are considering the legalization of sports gambling, Murren said that MGM does not support a federal approach. Echoing that position, the American Gaming Association has consistently opposed legislative efforts for certain business interests that it believes can be accomplished through commercial relationships such as MGM's partnership with Major League Baseball. 

"It is not a coincidence that we have relationships with those three leagues and not currently with the NFL," Murren said. "This is an emerging field, I think anyone that drives a stake in the ground and says 'this is my position and I'm not willing to change,' is going to end up eating those words."

The NFL, meanwhile, has taken the position that any federal legislation pertaining to sports gambling should contain a provision that requires gaming operators to use official league data in determining betting outcomes. Since betting outcomes for prop wagers now depend on granular details such as the number of yards gained by a certain player, the need for the data has become more pronounced, NFL Executive Vice President Jocelyn Moore testified at a Congressional hearing in September. Following November's midterm elections, Rep. James Sensenbrenner warned that it could take Congress months, possibly years, to enact legislation on sports betting.

Casey Schwab, Vice President of Business and Legal Affairs for the NFL Players Association, indicated Wednesday that he favors a cautious approach in evaluating potential commercial relationships with gaming operators. To that end, the league may prefer to wait until Congress acts before entertaining such deals. Sensenbrenner, chair of the House Judiciary Subcommittee on Crime, Terrorism, Homeland Security and Investigations, outlined several pathways for Congress to explore in deciding whether federal legislation for sports betting is necessary. On one hand, Congress can adopt uniform federal standards, as NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell recommends. On the other, the federal government can defer completely to the states. The biggest mistake, Sensenbrenner argues, would be to do nothing. 

"We want to make sure that the framework is set up first and so does our league," Schwab said. "We don't want to go out there and do a deal without the proper underlining framework."

More immediately, Murren emphasized that there were several factors driving the deal with MLB. The agreement enables MGM to become an official partner of grassroots events such as the league's MLB Road Show in Japan. Though sports betting in Japan has been limited primarily to horse racing, recent legislation was passed over the summer that could lead to the opening of casinos nationwide, the Japan Times reported. As MGM waits to hear whether it will be awarded with a casino license in Japan, Murren is focused on promoting baseball with MLB across the country.

Furthermore, while Murren believes the deal could yield a reasonable return on investment from sports betting he appears more concerned in augmenting relationships with associations like MLB. When confronting significant regulatory and lobbying hurdles with the new sports betting environment, it will be valuable for the company to align with the leagues, said Adam Greenblatt, CEO of MGM GVC Interactive, a joint venture between MGM Resorts International and GVC Holdings.

Despite their differences, Murren also demonstrated a willingness to maintain a more fulsome relationship with the NFL. Over the next several months, he said MGM will target strategic relationships with NFL team owners comparable to one the company signed last month with the New York Jets.

Whether it is team owners or the leagues themselves, Murren seems determined to cultivate partnerships with those who share his view on sports betting as a unique value proposition.

"Our focus has been to develop philosophical alignments with the leagues as a way to build fan engagement and ensure the integrity of the product," Murren said. "Those three leagues have been willing to do that."

By: Rachel Farrell of the Irish Independent

The US House of Representatives passed a bill yesterday that may see thousands of new visas issued to Irish citizens every year- if it passes through the Senate.

The E-3 work visa, a 2-year renewable visa that is currently reserved for Australian nationals only, would be issued to Irish citizens from the remainder of unused visas offered to Australians.

Here's everything you need to know about the E-3 visa, and what requirements are needed to apply for one.

What is the E-3 visa?

The E-3 visa, or the “Australian Specialty Occupation Professional” visa, is a visa that currently allows Australian nationals to work and live in America.

According to Australian immigration, the visa was first introduced in 2005 to allow professionals “to capitalise on the opportunities offered under the Australia-United States Free Trade Agreement”. 

There is no definite list of “special occupations” eligible for the visa, but it is defined as “theoretical and practical application of a body of specialized knowledge”.

Who is eligible?

At the moment, only Australian citizens are eligible for the visa, but that could be all set to change. The US House of Representatives passed a bill yesterday that could make thousands of Irish people eligible for the visa, if it passes a final vote from the Senate.

What requirements are needed?

To apply for the E-3 visa, a legitimate offer of employment in the US is needed. You also must have necessary academic or other qualifying credentials, and be able to show that you have the “necessary license or other official permission” to practice in the specialty occupation. 

There is no age limit on the visa, but a minimum of a bachelor’s degree or at least 12 years experience in the specialty occupation is necessary.

How can I get one?

The first step for Australians interested in obtaining the E-3 visa is to find a suitable job in the US. Once someone has accepted a job offer, they can begin the application with their employer.

The application includes paperwork and a pre-organised interview with a consular officer. There is not yet any details on whether the Irish citizen application will be the same.

How long is the visa for?

The E-3 visa is a two-year visa, but it can be “indefinitely renewed”. It also allows spouses of recipients to work in America during this time, but not their children. 

How many visas are issued?

There is currently a total of 10,500 visas available for Australian citizens, but if the bill is passed, the remainder of the visas each year may be issued to Irish applicants. 

A maximum of 5,000 will be allocated to Irish citizens if the bill passes in the US Senate.

How much does it cost?

The application fee for Australians currently costs $205 USD (€180).

Why is it now being offered to Irish citizens?

Democrat Richard Neal and Republican Jim Sensenbrenner introduced new legislation to the Congress earlier this year, and it was passed in the House of Representatives during a Congress debate last night.

It is expected to go through the Senate in the coming weeks. 

Why did the Congressmen decide to sponsor the bill?

According to Mr Sensenbrenner, passing of the bill would add to the "great legacy" between Ireland and the States.

"The United States was built on hard work and the determination of immigrants - many of them who hail from Ireland. Through their perseverance, they have enabled this country to grow and prosper," he said yesterday.

"I believe in the value and opportunity that comes with legal immigration. I am pleased to have authored this legislation to make the process more efficient for one of our oldest allies, and add to the great legacy of cultural diversity celebrated our country."

By: Rachel Farrell of the Irish Independent

The US House of Representatives has passed a bill that may see thousands of new visas issued to Irish citizens every year.

The E-3 work visa, a 2-year renewable visa that is currently reserved for Australian nationals only, would be issued to Irish citizens from the remainder of unused visas offered to Australians.

Some 10,500 E-3 visas are offered to Australians who wish to work in America every year, and if the bill receives Senate approval, up to 5,000 Irish citizens will be eligible for the scheme.

The bill was unanimously passed by the House of Representatives during a debate in Congress last night, the Bill must now be approved by the US Senate.

Republican Congressman Jim Sensenbrenner, who sponsored the bill alongside Democrat Richard Neal, said the passing of the bill would add to the "great legacy" between Ireland and the States.

"The United States was built on hard work and the determination of immigrants -many of them who hail from Ireland. Through their perseverance, they have enabled this country to grow and prosper," he said.

"I believe in the value and opportunity that comes with legal immigration. I am pleased to have authored this legislation to make the process more efficient for one of our oldest allies, and add to the great legacy of cultural diversity celebrated our country."

According to Mr Sensenbrenner, applicants outside the US will be able to apply directly at a US consulate, to lengthy processing times with US citizenship and immigration services.

He added that the visa would benefit both Irish and American citizens, including American citizens who wish to "retire" to Ireland with the Department of Justice currently looking to change the criteria needed for US retirees.

"This significant addition to the U.S. immigration system will not only benefit Irish nationals seeking employment in the United States, but also ease restrictions on Americans wanting to live or retire in Ireland."

The visa allows spouses of recipients to work in America, but not their children. Applicants must be employed in a speciality occupation, have necessary credentials and receive a legitimate offer of employment to apply.

By: Rachel Farrell of the Irish Independent

The US House of Representatives has passed a bill that may see thousands of new visas issued to Irish citizens every year.

The E-3 work visa, a 2-year renewable visa that is currently reserved for Australian nationals only, would be issued to Irish citizens from the remainder of unused visas offered to Australians.

Some 10,500 E-3 visas are offered to Australians who wish to work in America every year, and if the bill receives Senate approval, up to 5,000 Irish citizens will be eligible for the scheme.

The bill was unanimously passed by the House of Representatives during a debate in Congress last night, the Bill must now be approved by the US Senate.

Republican Congressman Jim Sensenbrenner, who sponsored the bill alongside Democrat Richard Neal, said the passing of the bill would add to the "great legacy" between Ireland and the States.

"The United States was built on hard work and the determination of immigrants -many of them who hail from Ireland. Through their perseverance, they have enabled this country to grow and prosper," he said.

"I believe in the value and opportunity that comes with legal immigration. I am pleased to have authored this legislation to make the process more efficient for one of our oldest allies, and add to the great legacy of cultural diversity celebrated our country."

According to Mr Sensenbrenner, applicants outside the US will be able to apply directly at a US consulate, to lengthy processing times with US citizenship and immigration services.

He added that the visa would benefit both Irish and American citizens, including American citizens who wish to "retire" to Ireland with the Department of Justice currently looking to change the criteria needed for US retirees.

"This significant addition to the U.S. immigration system will not only benefit Irish nationals seeking employment in the United States, but also ease restrictions on Americans wanting to live or retire in Ireland."

The visa allows spouses of recipients to work in America, but not their children. Applicants must be employed in a speciality occupation, have necessary credentials and receive a legitimate offer of employment to apply.

By: Suzanne Lynch of The Irish Times

The US House of Representatives has voted to extend the E3 visa scheme to Irish citizens during a debate in Congress on Wednesday evening.

Though the Bill must still get Senate approval, its passage through the House marks a major breakthrough in Ireland’s efforts to secure new visa access for Irish citizens who want to live and work in the United States.

Up to 5,000 visas per year could become available under the scheme which is currently only open to Australian citizens.

Speaking in the House on Wednesday evening during the debate, Congressman Richard Neal who co-sponsored the bill with Republican congressman Jim Sensenbrenner, described how more than a million people moved to America from Ireland after the famine. “America to its everlasting credit the land of the great, home of the brave, welcomed them.”

He said that the United States’ relationship with Ireland remains “one of the great relationships in terms of allies that we have in the history of America.”

Mr Sensenbrenner said the proposal would be a significant addition to the US immigration system, noting that it would also ease restrictions on Americans who want to live in Ireland without raising the cap on numbers already extended under the E3 visa scheme.

“The United States was built on hard work and the perseverance of immigrants, many who came from Ireland,” he said.

Senate hurdle

While the Bill only needed a two-third majority to pass in the lower chamber, the Senate requires unanimous consent in order to progress the Bill - a significant hurdle.

The E3 is a two-year renewable visa which allows Australian citizens and their spouses to live and work in the US. Australia negotiated the visa programme in 2005 as part of the US-Australia trade agreement.

The Government’s special envoy to the US Congress John Deasy and the Irish embassy in Washington have been advancing talks with senior figures on Capitol Hill and within the Trump administration about expanding access to the coveted visa scheme to include Irish people.

Concerns from Australia about the impact of the deal on their own access to the visas threatened to scupper the deal in recent weeks. However, it is understood that the Australian embassy in Washington is now on board. Among the assurances they have received is that Irish citizens will only be able to apply for visas not taken up in the first instance by Australia.

As many as 10,500 E3 visas are made available to Australian nationals each year under the 2005 deal between the US and Australia but only half of these are taken up each year.

Among the key provisions of the E3 visa is that applicants must have a job in the US to quality and have certain academic or other qualifying credentials. But the E3 is significantly easier and less costly to obtain that the traditional H1B visa for professionals. Unlike other visas, the two-year E3 visa can be renewed indefinitely and includes spouses.

Speaking on Capitol Hill on Wednesday Mr Deasy said that he welcomed the vote in the House but noted that it now needed to gain approval in the Senate.

“This is an important step for it to have passed the House, but this now goes to the US Senate where it will need to be considered under unanimous consent which will require all 100 Senators to agree for it to be signed into law. I am under no illusions how difficult that may be.”

But officials at the Embassy of Ireland in Washington were tight-lipped, cautioning that the Bill still needed senate approval.

Undocumented Irish

As it stands the Bill only applies to future flows of Irish people rather than undocumented Irish living in the United States.

As part of the negotiations, Ireland has offered to make it easier for US citizens to retire in Ireland. The Department of Justice is looking at options to change the criteria needed for US retirees, including lowering the income threshold needed and allowing retirees to work for up to 20 hours a week.

It is understood that Irish and Australian officials are working closely together on the negotiations as the Bill moves to the Senate phase, including introducing small tweaks to the initial E3 scheme. Crucially for Australia, the proposed legislation says that Irish citizens will be eligible to apply for “not more than a number equal to the difference between 10,500 and the number of applications approved in the prior fiscal year for aliens who are nationals of the Commonwealth of Australia”.

By: Laura D. Francis of Bloomberg Law

Potentially thousands of professionals from Ireland would be eligible for a special skilled guestworker visa under a bill passed by the House Nov. 28.

H.R. 7164, introduced by Reps. James Sensenbrenner (R-Wis.) and Richard Neal (D-Mass.), would add Ireland to the E-3 visa, a workaround for the H-1B visa that’s available solely to workers from Australia. It was approved in the House by voice vote.

The bill would retain the current 10,500 E-3 cap, but Irish workers would be entitled to the difference between 10,500 and the number of visas approved for Australians in the prior fiscal year. Australians currently only use about half of the 10,500 visas they’re allotted.

Spouses and children wouldn’t count toward the visa cap.

The measure differs from an earlier version (H.R. 7100) Sensenbrenner introduced in October, which didn’t give Australians first crack at the visas.

Gaining access to H-1B visas in recent years has been difficult, as demand for the temporary visa for “specialty occupations” far outstrips supply. There are 65,000 H-1B visas available each year, with an additional 20,000 reserved for workers with advanced degrees from U.S. colleges and universities.

U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services, which administers the visa program, received 190,098 petitions for the visas this year.

The agency also is moving forward with a proposal to change the H-1B lottery to allow for an employer pre-registration process. It also could rework the lottery to ensure that more visas are awarded to workers with advanced degrees.

USCIS Director Francis Cissna has indicated that he wants a regulation finalized by the time the next H-1B lottery rolls around in April. A proposed regulation hasn’t yet been released for public comment.

Sensenbrenner’s bill would allow Irish workers to get around the regular H-1B cap and have their own separate pool of visas for the same type of high-skilled jobs. Employers that hire Irish workers on E-3 visas would have to participate in the E-Verify electronic employment verification system.

Ireland is working on a reciprocal visa for U.S. workers in that country, Sensenbrenner said.

Washington, D.C.—Today, the House of Representatives unanimously passed bipartisan legislation to extend E-3 visa eligibility to Irish Nationals. The bill was sponsored by Congressmen Jim Sensenbrenner (R-WI-05) and Richard Neal (D-MA-01).

Congressman Sensenbrenner delivered the following remarks on the House floor:

“The United States was built on hard work and the determination of immigrants -many of them who hail from Ireland.  Through their perseverance, they have enabled this country to grow and prosper. 

I believe in the value and opportunity that comes with legal immigration. I am pleased to have authored this legislation to make the process more efficient for one of our oldest allies, and add to the great legacy of cultural diversity celebrated our country.

This modest proposal would give Irish Nationals the opportunity to work in the U.S. under the non-immigrant visa category of the E-3 Visa, previously reserved only for Australian nationals. Ireland in the meantime, has proposed a reciprocal work visa specific to U.S. nationals so that those wanting to live and work in Ireland can more easily do so.

The E-3 visa is one of the most efficient U.S. visa options.  Applicants outside the United States may apply directly at a U.S. consulate, thus avoiding lengthy processing times with U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services. The visas are granted for 2 year periods (renewable indefinitely), and the spouses of E-3 visa holders are permitted to apply for employment authorization documents. 

Currently, 10,500 E-3 visas are allocated each year, yet only half of these are used.  This legislation would allow Irish nationals to apply for those visas unused by Australian nationals.  

This significant addition to the U.S. immigration system will not only benefit Irish nationals seeking employment in the United States, but also ease restrictions on Americans wanting to live or retire in Ireland.  

In conclusion, I would like to say that this does not increase the number of visas that are authorized in total. It merely allows the Irish nationals to apply for the visas that Australian nationals do not want to use on a year-to-year basis.

I urge my colleagues to support the legislation and yield back the balance of my time.”

Congressman Sensenbrenner introduced similar legislation in the 114th Congress. 

By: Ray O'Hanlon of The Irish Echo

Sharing is caring – so long as it’s the leftovers that are being shared.

Australia has relented in the face of the Irish bid to secure a portion of Washington’s annual E-3 visa allocation.

But the ground giving is on the basis of, as the Sydney Morning Herald reported: “Almost 11,000 Australians a year will continue to have exclusive access to a prized visa that allows them to work in the U.S. following an intense lobbying campaign by Australian officials in Washington.”

The Sydney daily reported that Australia’s ambassador to the U.S., Joe Hockey, had “gone nuts” over proposed legislation “that could have seen Australians competing with the Irish for access to the plum E3 visa scheme.”

The paper stated in a separate report that “Ireland is trying to muscle in on a special United States visa class that only Australians currently enjoy and which has limited numbers.”

A bill before the House of Representatives, H.R. 7100, co-sponsored by Republican Congressman James Sensenbrenner from Wisconsin and Democratic Congressman, and Chairman of the Friends of Ireland, Richard Neal, from Massachusetts, had proposed to “add Ireland to the E-3 nonimmigrant visa program.”

That bill has since been amended and, as H.R. 7164, is listed for debate and a possible floor vote today in the House of Representatives.

Prior to the bill amending, the precise method of adding had occupied Ambassador Hockey’s mind to the point of his apparently straying from normal diplomatic wording and method and venting his concerns to, among others, House Speaker Paul Ryan.

“It seems the ambassador, Joe Hockey got a bit excited about it,” was the measured, indeed diplomatic, reaction of Billy Cantwell, publisher of the Irish Echo newspaper in Sydney.

Hockey’s reaction to the bill apparently had an effect.

Again reported the Sydney Morning Herald: “That legislation has now been withdrawn and replaced by a new draft bill that guarantees Australians continued access to up to 10,500 E3 visas a year.

“The new bipartisan bill would allow Irish professionals in the U.S. to apply for any unused visas from Australia’s annual quota in the subsequent fiscal year.

“Australia’s first preference was to remain the sole beneficiary of the E3 visa, which was created as part of the 2005 Australia-US Free Trade Agreement.

“But sources said the Australian embassy was ‘comfortable’ with the new legislation and would be recommending members of Congress support the bill.”

The paper noted that despite the advantages inherent in the E-3 visa program, (Australian) uptake of the visa “has been slow and thousands go unused each year.”

It’s these thousands of unused visas that could end up being offered on an annual basis to Irish visa hopefuls.

At the same time, however, all the E-3s in a given year could end up going to Australia if demand from there reaches the 10,500 visa ceiling.

“Roughly 5700 Australians took advantage of the E-3 scheme in 2017, leaving almost half of our annual quota unused,” the Morning Herald noted.

The report additionally stated: “Irish officials have insisted that their goal has only been to gain access to any of Australia’s remaining visas.

“But the Australian embassy was concerned that, under the wording of the initial bill, Australian and Irish professionals would be competing for the same pool of 10,500 visas.

“Australian officials pointed out that applications for the visa have been growing over recent years and Australians could miss out in the future if forced to compete with the Irish.

“Australian officials raised objections with Republican House Speaker Paul Ryan and senior figures in the Trump administration in recent weeks.”

The paper noted that “many members of the US Congress have Irish ancestry, and are sympathetic to the idea of making it easier for Irish professionals to work in America.”

The Visa Weekly website reported that above and beyond Australian concerns about the Irish coming on board the E-3 program, Australian officials also fear that “if the Irish succeed, other countries also might want to be given access” to the E-3 program.

E-3 visas are awarded on a two year basis and can be renewed indefinitely. An E-3 visa holder can be accompanied to the U.S. by a spouse. In many respects the E-3s are not unlike H-1B visas or the extended J-1 Visas.

And E-3 program open to the Irish will not address the issue of the undocumented Irish, or open passage to the U.S. for a broad swathe of potential Irish immigrants as the E-3s, as currently formulated, are focused on people with specific professional qualifications.

H.R. 7164 is expected to come up for debate and a vote late Wednesday afternoon.

The bill specifies that Australians will have access to not more than 10,500 E-3 visas in a fiscal year but goes on to add: “For applicants who are nationals of Ireland, not more than a number equal to the difference between 10,500 and the number of applications approved in the prior fiscal year for aliens who are nationals of the Commonwealth of Australia.”

In other words, Irish applicants will be eligible for those E-3 visas not taken up by Australians in a given fiscal year.

It is possible that there will be a call for a voice vote today on H.R. 7164. If such a call is made and there is no subsequent call for a recorded vote the bill will be considered passed. If there is a call for a recorded vote that vote will be moved forward to tomorrow, Thursday.

By: Martin Longman of Washington Monthly

If you want to get a sense for how seriously House Republicans take their oversight responsibilities, you need not look further than the comments of Rep. Matt Gaetz of Florida who serves on the Judiciary Committee. He’s supporting Rep. Jim Jordan of Ohio’s bid to take over the GOP’s top “ranking member” position on Judiciary despite the fact that Jordan only ranks eighth in seniority.

In truth, the Republicans serving on the committee were decimated in the midterms. The chairman, Bob Goodlatte of Virginia decided to retire. Other members who retired or sought other offices include: Darrell Issa of California, Trey Gowdy of South Carolina, and Raúl Labrador of Idaho. Meanwhile, both Karen C. Handel of Georgia and Keith Rothfus of Pennsylvania were defeated.

Technically, Jim Sensenbrenner of Wisconsin is next in line, but he’s already served as the head of Judiciary
and appears to be ineligible. Running instead, in addition to Rep. Jordan, are Rep. Steve Chabot of Ohio and Rep. Doug Collins of Georgia. Based on seniority, the job should go to Chabot, but Rep. Gaetz thinks that Chabot and Collins are the wrong men for the job.

Rep. Matt Gaetz (R-Fla.), a Republican member of the Judiciary Committee, said Jordan is the best choice to be the Republican face of the committee while the GOP is in the minority.

“Collins and Chabot are fine legislators. They have great skill in developing legislation and a vision for leadership. They’d make the best chairmen of the committee,” he said in a statement to POLITICO. “Neither is qualified to be ranking member now. Neither has attended the depositions of key witnesses in the committee’s most important investigations. Jim knows how to fight the battle we are facing. He has internalized the facts and timeline. If he isn’t the ranking member, President Trump will be without the most capable defense we could otherwise offer.”

“Kevin McCarthy,” Gaetz continued, “has the power to make Jim Jordan the lead Republican on Judiciary. If he doesn’t, he is actively screwing President Trump. And they both know it.”

Rep. Gaetz knows that the Judiciary Committee will handle any impeachment hearings, should they occur, as well as many other oversight hearings. He told Bloomberg News that “this committee is going to be covered like the O.J. trial.” He couldn’t be less interested in getting to the truth of how the Russians interfered in our elections or how they might do so again in the future. He doesn’t care in the slightest whether the Trump administration has acted lawfully.  He is ready to do battle and offer “the most capable defense.”

The White House sees things much the same way and is hoping to convince soon-to-be House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy of California to place Rep. Jordan as ranking member on Judiciary, as well as Rep. Mark Meadows of North Carolina in the top spot of the Committee of Oversight and Government Reform. There are six members of the Oversight Committee with more seniority than Rep. Meadows, so neither of these moves can be approved without causing some resentment and consternation within the caucus.

GOP leaders are set to informally discuss the matter Tuesday night as they begin to organize for the next Congress. The Republican Steering Committee, a group of several dozen lawmakers close to GOP leaders, is ultimately responsible for recommending ranking members. Both men would have to be elected to the positions, though lawmakers give leaders’ preferences ample consideration before voting. The Steering Committee meets Wednesday and Thursday.

Reportedly, it is David Bossie and Corey Lewandowski who are pushing this process on the behalf of Donald Trump, showing again that Chief of Staff John Kelly has little control over the West Wing.

By: Matthew Knott of The Sydney Morning Herald

New York: Almost 11,000 Australians a year will continue to have exclusive access to a prized visa that allows them to work in the US following an intense lobbying campaign by Australian officials in Washington.

Fairfax Media revealed last week that Australia's ambassador to the US, Joe Hockey, had "gone nuts" over proposed legislation that could have seen Australians competing with the Irish for access to the plum E3 visa scheme.

That legislation has now been withdrawn and replaced by a new draft bill that guarantees Australians continued access to up to 10,500 E3 visas a year.

This visa class can only be accessed by Australian professionals and is the envy of many countries around the world.

The new bipartisan bill would allow Irish professionals in the US to apply for any unused visas from Australia's annual quota in the subsequent fiscal year. It is expected to be voted on before the end of the year.

Australia's first preference was to remain the sole beneficiary of the E3 visa, which was created as part of the 2005 Australia-US Free Trade Agreement.

But sources said the Australian embassy was "comfortable" with the new legislation and would be recommending members of Congress support the bill.

Unlike other visas, the E3 visa permits the spouses of Australian recipients to live and work in the US without restrictions and can be renewed indefinitely. It is relatively cheap and allows Australians to bypass the pool of hundreds of thousands of other applicants competing for the right to work in America.

Despite these advantages, uptake of the visa has been slow and thousands go unused each year.

Some 5700 Australians took advantage of the E3 scheme last year, leaving almost half of our annual quota unused.

Irish officials have insisted that their goal has only been to gain access to any of Australia's remaining visas.

But the Australian embassy was concerned that, under the wording of the initial bill, Australian and Irish professionals would be competing for the same pool of 10,500 visas.

Australian officials pointed out that applications for the visa have been growing over recent years and Australians could miss out in the future if forced to compete with the Irish.

Australian officials raised objections with Republican House Speaker Paul Ryan and senior figures in the Trump administration in recent weeks.

The bill has been introduced by Wisconsin Republican congressman Jim Sensenbrenner and Massachusetts Democrat Richard Neal and is expected to be supported by both parties.