H-2B Returning Worker Amendment Passes Committee Email
Written by Cherie Courtade   
Wednesday, July 25, 2018 11:00 AM

Thanks again for all of the amazing outreach to the Hill this week.  We are thrilled that earlier today that the House Appropriations Committee passed an H-2B amendment offered by Reps. Andy Harris (R-MD), Henry Cuellar (D-TX), Dutch Ruppersberger (D-MD), Chellie Pingree (D-ME) and Chris Stewart (R-UT) that would do the following:

  • Exempt H-2B workers from the 66,000 annual cap if they received H-2B visas during one of the previous two fiscal years;
  • Allocate the 66,000 visas for new H-2B workers on a quarterly basis to assist employers whose season’s do not align well with the current bi-annual allocation;
  • Create a system in which in 66,000 H-2B visas for new workers would be allocated on a proportional basis if the cap is reached so that all employers will receive a percentage of H-2B workers.

During the markup, the amendment sponsors, Homeland Security Subcommittee Chairman Kevin Yoder (R-KS) and Rep. John Moolenaar (R-MI) all spoke very eloquently about the need for additional H-2B workers and how these workers support American jobs.  If any of these Members are your Representative, please time a few minutes to say thank you. 

View/download the text of the amendment.

So What Comes Next?
The House Appropriations Committee is still debating the FY 19 Homeland Security Appropriations bill and will likely pass it late today. 

The Senate Appropriations Committee passed its version of the Homeland Security measure on June 21. The bill is silent on H-2B cap relief, but it does include report language that states:

H–2B Visa Distribution. —The Committee is concerned that the current semiannual distribution of H–2B visas on April 1 and October 1 of each year unduly disadvantages employers that need H– 2B workers to begin work later in a semiannual period than other employers participating in that period. The Committee directs the Department, in consultation with the Department of Labor, to review options to ameliorate this problem consistent with the H–2B provisions of the Immigration and Nationality Act and to report to the Committee on these options not later than 120 days after the date of enactment of this act.

On June 29, the Senate Appropriations Committee passed its spending bill for the Departments of Health and Human Services, Labor and Education.  The bill continues the provisions from last year's Omnibus Appropriations law related to the H-2B wage methodology and wage surveys, corresponding employment, the ¾ guarantee, a 10-month season and staggered crossing for seafood workers.

The House Appropriations Committee approved its version of the legislation on July 11. That bill includes only the provision related to the staggered crossing of seafood workers. 

Both chambers need to pass their final appropriations bills, work to iron out the differences between the bills in conference and then pass final Homeland Security and Health and Human Services, Labor and Education appropriations bill either as stand-alone bills or in combination with other appropriations bills. The President would then need to sign the final bill into law. 

Congress is working to pass all of its appropriations bills prior to the start of Fiscal 2019 on October 1, but this deadline is often missed, requiring Congress to pass one or more short-term temporary funding measures called continuing resolutions.  We will keep you updated.