H-2B and Appropriations

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Fiscal year 2020 began on October 1. The federal government is currently operating under a temporary spending bill or “continuing resolution” (CR) that runs through November 21.

To date, little progress has been made in discussions among House and Senate leaders on final spending bills. Also, the Senate has yet to pass annual spending bills, including those that fund the Departments of Labor and Homeland Security. Senate leaders are currently negotiating a bipartisan package of appropriations bills to be brought up on the Senate floor during the week of October 21. They are still discussing which bills may be included in that package.

The Senate Appropriations Committee version of the DOL funding bill continues the previous provisions of law that prevent DOL from enforcing the corresponding employment and 3/4 guarantee provisions of the 2015 regulations, allow for a 10-month season, and allow for the use of private wage surveys. It does not include the proportional and quarterly cap allocation language that is in the House-passed version of the bill. The Senate Committee’s version of the Homeland Security funding bill does not currently contain any H-2B cap relief.

The House passed its version of the Fiscal 2020 Department of Labor (DOL) funding bill during the summer. The bill would allocate H-2B visas proportionally on a quarterly basis. The House Appropriations Committee passed the Fiscal 2020 Homeland Security (DHS) funding bill over the summer as well, but has not brought the bill to the floor due disagreements over border wall funding and other immigration issues. The bill includes language similar to last year’s language that allowed DHS to release some additional H-2B visas, but it takes away some of DHS’ discretion by changing the word “may” to “shall.”

As the House and Senate work to create a funding package beyond November 21, we continue to urge the lawmakers to include H-2B cap relief and extend the existing DOL regulatory provisions in any final spending measure for Fiscal 2020. We will keep you updated.

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