H-2B “Fly-In” to Push Cap Relief

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As Congress continues to debate annual spending bills to fund the federal government, AmericanHort is pushing for H-2B visa cap relief. As with past years, “must do” appropriations bills offer the best opportunity to pass temporary H-2B cap relief which would toward a permanent solution to the H-2B labor crisis.

To press for inclusion of H-2B cap relief in a final spending package, AmericanHort is co-hosting a legislative “fly-in” on November 13, along with the National Association of Landscape Professionals, the H-2B Workforce Coalition, and the Seasonal Employment Alliance. We will be scheduling meetings for any of our members who plan to attend the event. If you are interested in attending, please RSVP online.

Since October 1, the federal government has been operating under a temporary spending bill, or continuing resolution, that runs through November 21. In the next few weeks, we expect Congress to pass another short-term continuing resolution that could run through early next year.

To date, little progress has been made in discussions between House and Senate leaders on final spending bills. The Senate has yet to pass most of the annual spending bills, including those that fund the Departments of Labor (DOL) and Homeland Security (DHS).

The Senate 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, allows for a 10-month season, and allows 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 DHS funding 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 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.”

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.

In addition to working through the annual appropriations process to garner cap relief for fiscal 2020, AmericanHort is working with the H-2B Workforce Coalition, which we co-chair, and other organizations to encourage Congress to pass permanent H-2B cap relief. While the discussion with key lawmakers continues, we expect that any H-2B cap relief legislation will also include some additional integrity and enforcement measures. We will keep you updated on the status of these discussions.

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