UPDATE ON RWE:
The Senate purged our CR, as you may know, but there is still opportunity for success. Majority Leader McConnell has taken us out to keep the bill as clean as possible. That being said, Tuesday 9/27 is a big day for us. The Senate will vote on whether to include RWE in the CR. From now until then, we must have everyone contact the following Senators:
Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell:
- Chief of Staff: Brian_McGuire@McConnell.senate.gov
- Legislative Director: Phillip_Maxson@McConnell.senate.gov
Senate Minority Leader Harry Reid:
- Chief of Staff: Drew_Willison@Reid.senate.gov
- Legislative Director: Jason_Unger@Reid.senate.gov
Senator Thad Cochran:
- Chief of Staff: Keith_Heard@Cochran.senate.gov
- Legislative Director: Adam_Telle@Cochran.senate.gov
Senator Barbara Mikulski:
- Chief of Staff: Shannon_Kula@Mikulski.senate.gov
- Legislative Director: Brigid_Houton@Mikulski.senate.gov
Call, Email, and Tweet the heck out of these people. The Returning Worker Exemption is vital to small and seasonal businesses across the county. #SaveH2b #RWE
The Senate is taking a lead on the introduction of a Continuing Resolution. Majority Leader McConnell has released a bill that he intends to move; that said it has not yet been voted on by either body. This version, however, probably tells us a lot about where things are headed. All of our language in both the Labor section (that impacts audits, wage surveys, corresponding employment , etc.) and in the Homeland section (RWE) of the FY 2016 appropriations law DOES get carried forward in the CR as drafted. However, so far they have not modified the statutory language for the RWE to override the term”fiscal year” (the anomaly). Technically, that means from October 1 till the adoption of a permanent funding law for FY 17, RWE does not apply.
BUT if we keep the language that was passed in markup of the FY 17 Homeland approps bill till it becomes law…and because we changed the problematic language in that version..once it becomes law it is retroactive to October 1. It has been suggested therefore, from a pragmatic perspective, as long as employers continue to identify RWE employees in applications and since we won’t likely hit the cap before the end of December, there should not be an immediate detrimental impact caused by the language gap. That does mean we need Congress to approve a final FY 17 package prior to the end of the year and not roll it over into next year.
All of that does not mean that we won’t remain vigilant for an opening to revisit this situation as the CR progresses. It does mean we have to pick up the scalpel and lay down the axe.
The H-2B Workforce Coalition will be issuing a news release that states: “…. remains optimistic that the Continuing Resolution, for FY 2017, will contain language to help hundreds of small, seasonal businesses have access to essential temporary labor, by ensuring the Returning Worker Exemption that is currently in effect stays in force for the duration of the temporary funding measure. A potential gap in the effective dates prior to the passage of the FY 2017 appropriations bills falls just before the beginning of visa processing for seasonal hiring in early 2017.”