Three of the world’s richest men -- Bill Gates, Warren Buffett and Sheldon Adelson -- criticized the U.S. Congress, and particularly the Republican-led House, over its failure to revamp immigration laws.
“Whatever the precise provisions of a law, it’s time for the House to draft and pass a bill that reflects both our country’s humanity and its self interest,” Microsoft Corp. co-founder Gates, Berkshire Hathaway Inc. Chairman Buffett and Las Vegas Sands Corp. Chairman Adelson wrote in a New York Times op-ed posted online yesterday.
“It’s time for 535 of America’s citizens to remember what they owe to the 318 million who employ them,” they wrote, referring to the total membership of the House and Senate.
The three men are worth a combined $184.3 billion, according to Bloomberg’s Billionaires Index.
While business representatives have long favored rewriting immigration laws, the push for that effort by corporate titans who have varying political beliefs and interests is unusual.
President Barack Obama requested this week that Congress pass $3.7 billion in emergency spending to deal with s urge in recent months of children entering the U.S. illegally at the Mexican border, and he continues to press the House to pass a broader rewrite of immigration laws.
Adelson, 80, and his wife, Miriam, have been major donors to Republican candidates for years. They pumped $15 million into a super-political action committee backing former House Speaker Newt Gingrich’s presidential campaign in 2012, according to data compiled by the non-partisan Center for Responsive Politics. They later gave $20 million to the super-PAC supporting the eventual Republican nominee, Mitt Romney.
Buffett, 83, has given money largely to Democrats over the years, including more than $200,000 to Obama and the Democratic National Committee since Obama first ran for president, according to Federal Election Commission records. He has also cultivated relationships with Republicans as he encouraged compromise on political issues.
Gates, 58, has donated money to members of both parties and a variety of causes, including efforts to support gay marriage.
A comprehensive revision of U.S. immigration policies passed the Senate last year. The House hasn’t acted on similar legislation or piecemeal bills that would create a conference committee to negotiate differences with the Senate.
After House Majority Leader Eric Cantor lost a Republican primary in Virginia last month in part due because of his willingness to consider debate on rewriting immigration laws, Republican lawmakers said the chances were nil for legislative action on the issue before November’s mid-term elections.
“The three of us vary in our politics and would differ also in our preferences about the details of an immigration reform bill,” Gates, Adelson and Buffett wrote. “But we could without a doubt come to together to draft a bill acceptable to each of us,” and “it’s time this brand of thinking finds its way to Washington.”