Partial Federal Shutdown Over, For Now

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President Trump signed into law on January 25 a three-week temporary spending measure to re-open closed federal agencies including the Department of Homeland Security. As part of the agreement to fund the government through February 15, President Trump and Congress agreed to convene a conference committee to negotiate a final DHS spending package. The conferees met for the first time on January 31 and continue to negotiate, along with party leaders, behind closed doors. The conferees are as follows:

Senate Conferees:
Richard C. Shelby, R-AL
Shelley Moore Capito, R-WV
John Hoeven, R-ND
Roy Blunt, R-MO
Patrick J. Leahy, D-VT
Richard J. Durbin, D-IL
Jon Tester, D-MT

House Conferees: 
Nita M. Lowey, D-NY
Lucille Roybal-Allard, D-CA
David E. Price, D-NC
Barbara Lee, D-CA
Henry Cuellar, D-TX
Pete Aguilar, D-CA
Kay Granger, R-TX
Chuck Fleischmann, R-TN
Tom Graves, R-GA
Steven M. Palazzo, R-MS

Some have called for negotiators to embrace a “grand bargain” that pairs border security funding with relief for individuals who have received relief from deportation through programs such as DACA or temporary protected status. However, the negotiation seems to be trending away from a broad deal. 

One critical piece of unfinished business for our industry is H-2B visa program cap relief. Among the named conferees, Reps. Cuellar, Granger, and Palazzo signed a recent letter to Speaker Pelosi (D-CA), House Minority Leader McCarthy (R-CA), Senate Majority Leader McConnell (R-KY), and Senate Minority Leader Schumer (D-NY) urging that permanent H-2B cap relief be part of any agreement to fund the government for the remainder of fiscal 2019. Ninety-five additional Members of Congress and 31 Senators joined them in signing the letter, which was led by Reps. Pingree (D-ME) and Harris (R-MD) and Senators Tillis (R-NC) and King (I-ME).

AmericanHort, and the H-2B Workforce Coalition which we co-chair, continue to advocate for an H-2B returning worker exemption or other meaningful cap relief to be included in the final spending measure. We will continue to update you on our outreach efforts and appreciate continued grassroots outreach to the Hill.  The recent letter to leadership would not have garnered so many signatures if our members had not repeatedly reached out to their lawmakers. 

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