Final push made to get Returning Worker Exemption in bill

Posted: Dec. 7, 2016

A continuing resolution that will fund the United States government through April 28, 2017, doesn’t contain provisions for the H2B Visa Returning Worker Exemption, but lobbyists and at least one lawmaker made another push in advance of a House of Representatives committee meeting scheduled for the afternoon of Dec. 7.

The U.S. House Rules Committee, officials said, was to meet at 3 p.m. EDT to discuss the parameters for the temporary spending measure and continuing resolution, according to the National Horsemen’s Benevolent and Protective Association. Racing industry lobbyists said Rep. Andy Harris of Maryland has asked the committee to include the exemption for temporary workers to the omnibus spending bill.

Horsemen’s groups and other organizations were asking industry stakeholders to contact members of the House Rules Committee. Republican members are Reps. Pete Sessions (chairman) of Texas, Tom Cole of North Carolina, Rob Woodall of Georgia, Michael Burgess of Texas, Steve Stivers of Ohio, Doug Collins of Georgia, Bradley Byrne of Alabama, and Daniel Newhouse of Washington. Democratic members of the committee are Reps. Louise Slaughter (ranking member) of New York, Jim McGovern of Washington, Alcee Hastings of Florida, and Jared Polis of Colorado.

The H2B Visa Program protects the horse racing industry by providing access to legal temporary workers, particularly during race meets. Industry officials have said that workforce “could be crippled” if Congress doesn’t reinstate the program by March 2017.

The exemption allows the temporary migrant workforce to be in the U.S. legally for 10 months a year, return to their home country for two months, and then come back to work at racetracks, training facilities and farms. Those who hold H-2B visas are in the U.S. legally and occupy jobs that otherwise would go unfilled.

(THA photo)