H-2B Appropriations Update
Congressional Democrats and the White House continue negotiations around a deal to increase the debt ceiling and impose annual federal spending caps. Speaker Pelosi hopes to reach an agreement before Congress goes on recess for the month of August. On July 19, the Speaker rejected an initial offer from the Administration that calls for $150 billion in spending cuts as debt ceiling deal negotiations continue. We do not expect to see further action on funding bills for the Departments of Labor or Homeland Security, which are carrying helpful H-2B program riders, until the broader agreement is reached.
For background, on June 19, the House of Representatives passed an FY 2020 spending package that includes funding for the Department of Labor (DOL). The spending bill would allow for H-2B visas to be allocated proportionally on a quarterly basis. The Homeland Security funding bill, as passed the by the House Appropriations Committee last month, would modify the current H-2B cap discretionary language to limit the discretion of the DHS secretary about releasing additional visas. The fiscal 2017, 2018 and 2019 DHS appropriations bills said that the secretary “may” release up to 69,320 visas if it determines that the needs of seasonal businesses cannot be met with American workers. The bill just passed by the House 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 Senate does not plan to take up any spending bills until a deal on spending caps is reached.