Right now, as you read this, the House and Senate are contemplating the Returning Worker Exemption for FY2017 which was added as an amendment to the DHS Appropriations Bill. The DHS Approps. Committee passed the vote this summer, with an almost unanimous vote. The only Congressional members who did not support it in the committee were Debbie Wasserman-Schultz (FL), Lucille Roybal-Allard (CA), and 2 others which made the vote approximately 44-4 (even though this was the only bill that did not have a voiced roll-call vote). A giant thank-you to everyone who fought up until this point.
The fight is far from over, as the bill is now headed to the House floor where, if passed, it will end up in the Senate. Right now we are asking all PES clients to contact their Congressmen and ask them to support the Returning Worker Exemption (RWE). This will allow seasonal/small business to still receive their workers after the cap of 66.000 is met. The actual language states that anyone who has participated in the program for 1 or more of the past 3 years, would not be counted against the cap after it has been met, causing businesses who rely on their workers to return each season to be able to function. Without this, businesses and business owners suffer and American jobs are at risk. Currently, for FY 2016 the RWE is in effect but it will expire come November.
The following image shows the actual language that is in the bill and the “ANOMALY” that is mentioned, means that we are trying to get a specific part of the wording altered. Please contact Patrick Wilson at Pwilson@PESUSA.com if you would like to know how to help!
UPDATE: WE NEED YOUR HELP!
Hopes for Early Congress Exit Fade as CR Talks Drag (1)
• Frustrated White House sent GOP rider-free offer, Durbin says
• Cornyn now predicting Senate probably in session next week
By Erik Wasson and Kathleen Hunter | September 20, 2016 3:45PM ET
(Updates with delayed vote starting in the sixth paragraph.)
Lawmakers’ hopes of leaving town this week ahead of schedule to focus on campaigns are dimming. Even if negotiators reach a deal on the 10-week spending bill today, getting it across the finish line this week would require all senators cooperating.
Senate Majority Whip John Cornyn of Texas said it’s looking increasingly likely that the chamber would be in session next week and blamed the minority party for the lack of a deal so far on the continuing resolution, or CR.
“The Democrats want to drag this out,” he said.
Frustrated with multiplying rider requests from both sides of the aisle, the White House yesterday sent an offer to McConnell that consisted solely of a funding extension and Zika aid, Democratic Whip Richard Durbin of Illinois told reporters today.
“They said, look we are never going to get out of this this way,” Durbin said, referring to White House officials.
Durbin said White House officials were awaiting Republicans’ response, but Cornyn said he wasn’t aware of that offer.
“We’re trading ideas, and now I think it’s up to” Republicans “to decide how rigid they want to be on the poison pill riders and Flint,” Barbara Mikulski of Maryland, the top Senate Democratic negotiator on the CR, told reporters. She was referring to the push for assistance to help the Michigan city cope with its contaminated water supply. “We are ready to go with Flint and Louisiana” flood aid but “we can’t accept a lot of their poison pills,” she told reporters.
“The conversations are very constructive,” she said. The Zika funding is settled, she said. “We are on our way with Zika if we could get some of the other things taken care of.”
Even if a deal suddenly comes together on a clean continuing resolution free of policy riders, getting it passed this week could be a heavy lift. The Senate was forced to scrap a 2:15 p.m. vote today on the vehicle for the CR, rescheduling it for 5:15 p.m.
Senate Minority Leader Harry Reid said that Democrats were rejecting Republican attempts to include an Securities and Exchange Commission campaign finance rider in the bill.
Today’s cloture vote on the motion to proceed to the vehicle for the CR requires 60 votes to succeed. Senators then can take up to 30 hours to debate the motion to proceed.
If that motion is adopted and Majority Leader Mitch McConnell files cloture right away, then the Senate has up to two legislative days to debate cloture on the deal itself, which would probably would be filed as a substitute amendment. Cloture on the deal could be followed by 30 hours of debate on the amendment, at which point the whole process of delay could be repeated on the bill itself.
Unanimous consent to expedite the process is far from guaranteed, at least for the first steps. Senator Ted Cruz, a Texas Republican, has been pushing both for a delay in Internet domain name privatization and in processing Syrian refugee applications, so could look to create roadblocks.
STATE OF PLAY
As of this morning, there is no overall deal on the spending bill, McConnell said on the Senate floor. Senator Charles Schumer, the New Yorker in line to become the Democrats’ leader in the next Congress, confirmed to reporters last night that there is a tentative deal on the table on Zika riders, although negotiators were still tackling the issue of offsetting part of the $1.1 billion in funds. Missouri Republican Senator Roy Blunt, who has spearheaded Zika talks, said that such a deal is possible but depends on the contents of the attached CR.
Schumer said that a provision taken from the Zika Vector Control Act to waive Environmental Protection Agency restrictions on pesticide spraying had been removed and funding would flow to Planned Parenthood’s Puerto Rican affiliate Profamilia, a concession from Republicans.
He said Democrats were still pushing to get assistance to help Flint, Michigan, address its contaminated water supply is tied to any disaster aid for floods in Louisiana.
Aides said that two other riders have been holding up the talks. One would correct a drafting error in the December 2015 omnibus regarding trucker hours of service.
Last year’s omnibus spending bill required the Transportation Department to study whether a 2013 rule governing how truckers can “restart” their work week improved safety or not. The 2013 rule required a 34-hour restart that included two consecutive 1 a.m. to 5 a.m. breaks– something that truckers and shippers said was too burdensome. The overnight requirements were suspended in the December 2014 omnibus.
Transportation Appropriations subcommittee Chairman Susan Collins and her house counterpart, Representative Mario Diaz-Balart, say the drafting error meant that when the study is completed, the Transportation Department could decide that the entire restart option should be scrapped, thereby imposing even stronger limits on the hours truckers can work in a week. Their efforts to get the error fixed in the regular T-HUD spending bill have been supported by shippers such as FedEx Corp. and opposed by safety groups.
Another sticking point involves a provision in the omnibus spending bill from last year preventing the Securities and Exchange Commission from completing a rule requiring companies to disclose political contributions. McConnell has criticized the SEC rule as an attack on freedom of expression and says the concession by Democrats to include it in the CR needs to be extended this time around. Including the SEC rider, however, caused a backlash from Senator Elizabeth Warren of Massachusetts, so Democrats are likely wary of repeating the concession.
WRDA DEPENDS ON CR: The fate of the Water Resources Development Act is tied up with the fate of CR negotiations, according to a House Republican aide. House Democrats, led by the Michigan delegation, are pushing for a guarantee that Flint aid be included in WRDA, which would be difficult for House Republicans, who see it as federal interference in local problems, to accept. If Flint assistance is included in the CR, then that could help WRDA move in the House. Alternatively, if WRDA gets added to the suspension calendar and passed, the Flint aid could be dealt with in a conference.