H-2B Cap Fate Tied to FY2020 Government Spending Solution

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On September 19, the House of Representatives passed a temporary spending measure to fund the federal government through November 21. The Senate is expected to pass the measure next week.

Senate Democrats and Republicans, however, remain deeply divided over many appropriations bills, making it more likely that Congress will pass a second year-long continuing resolution later this fall to fund at least some government agencies. The Department of Homeland Security (DHS) and Labor (DOL) spending bills are among the most controversial due to policy debates around funding a border wall and abortion limits.

The House passed its version of the Fiscal 2020 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 DHS funding over the summer but the full chamber has not brought the bill to the floor due to disagreements over border wall funding and other immigration issues. The bill would include 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.”

Senate Appropriations Subcommittee Chairman Blunt (MO) released his version of the DOL funding bill earlier this week, but that bill is not expected to move anytime soon. It continues the previous regulatory relief provisions that prevent DOL from enforcing the corresponding employment and 3/4 guarantee provisions of the 2015 regulations, allows for a 10-month season, allows for the use of private wage surveys and provides for staggered crossing for seafood workers. The Senate Appropriations Committee has not yet released its version of the DHS funding bill. AmericanHort members and state association partners lobbied this issue hard during the Impact Washington Summit, and report generally good receptivity to our concerns and our ask for cap relief. We are following the appropriations process closely and continuing to advocate for H-2B cap relief to be included in any final spending bill.

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