H-2B and Appropriations
Federal fiscal year 2020 began on October 1. The federal government is currently operating under a temporary spending bill, or “continuing resolution,” that runs through November 21. The annual appropriations process is unpredictable and the House impeachment inquiry could increase the partisan tensions we always face around the annual spending bills.
If Congress is unable to reach a consensus on the Labor (DOL) and Homeland Security (DHS) funding bills, lawmakers may pass a long-term bill to fund DHS and DOL at the Fiscal 2019 levels for the remainder of the fiscal year. Under such a scenario, the DOL policy prohibitions included in the Fiscal 2019 funding bill and the DHS cap discretionary authority will remain in effect. It is also possible that Congress passes a series of short-term funding bills or that President Trump may refuse to sign a measure, shutting down the federal government for a short period of time.
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, that allowed DHS to release some additional H-2B visas, but the pending House language attempts to limit DHS discretion by changing the word “may” to “shall.”
Senate Appropriations Subcommittee Chairman Roy Blunt (R-MO) released his version of the DOL funding bill earlier this week but that bill is not expected to move anytime soon. It continues current 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.
In addition, the Senate Appropriations Committee passed its version of the DHS funding bill on September 26. The bill does not contain any H-2B cap relief.
We are continuing to advocate for H-2B cap relief to be included in any final spending measure for Fiscal 2020. We will keep you updated.