As Congress returns from the August recess, AmericanHort, our allies in the H-2B Workforce Coalition, and seasonal employers across the country are sending Senate Appropriations Committee leaders a letter asking that they include helpful H-2B provisions in the Senate version of the Fiscal 2020 Department of Homeland Security and Labor funding bills. We expect to the Senate Appropriations Committee to begin taking up spending bills to fund various government agencies during September.
In June, the House-passed Fiscal 2020 Labor-HHS appropriations bill includes an amendment offered by Rep. Andy Harris (R-MD) that would allow for H-2B visas to be allocated proportionally on a quarterly basis.
The DHS funding bill also passed the by the House Appropriations Committee modifies the current H-2B cap discretionary language to reauthorize yet limit the discretion of DHS to release additional visas. The fiscal 2017, 2018 and 2019 DHS appropriations bills said that DHS “may” release up to 69,320 visas if it determines that the needs of seasonal businesses cannot be met with American workers. The bill passed by the House Appropriations Committee includes an amendment offered by Rep. Chellie Pingree (D-ME) that states that DHS “shall” release up to 69,320 visas if it determines that the needs of seasonal businesses cannot be met with American workers. The language is identical to the language that is in law for fiscal 2017, 2018 and 2019, except that it changes the word “may” to “shall.
The coalition letter urges the Senate to adopt these same provisions in its version of the fiscal 2020 funding bills.