Senate Appropriations Committee Moves to Block New H-2B Wage Rule

On September 21, the Senate Appropriations Committee approved an amendment to the Fiscal Year 2012 Labor, Health and Humans Services, and  Education Appropriations bill (FY 2012 Labor bill) that would blockthe Department of Labor (DOL) from  using funds toimplement a new prevailing wage final rule for the H-2B program.

The new wage rule is scheduled to go into effect on September 30, 2011. The wage rule, in most instances, will increase the hourly wage that must be paid to all currently employed H-2B workers and American workers recruited in connection with an H -2B job application as well as future workers. More information on the wage rule can be found here.

It is being reported the DOL is considering delaying the effective date of the rule by 60 days.

The H-2B program is used by members of the horse industry, principally horse trainers and owners who cannot find American workers to fill semi-skilled jobs at racetracks, horse shows, fairs and in similar non-agricultural activities. The AHC is concerned the wage rule will make the H-2B program even more costly to use than it already is for horse industry employers forced touse the program. The AHC is opposed to the H-2B wage rule and supports the Senate amendment.

This is just the first step in blocking the H-2B wage rule. The FY 2012 Labor bill must now be approved by the full Senate and go through a Conference Committee to work out any differences between the House and Senateversions of the bill. This process will not be compl eted by the beginning of the FY 2012 on October 1, 2011.Congress is currently working to pass a short termContinuing Resolution (CR)  to fund the government past October 1st and give them time to complete work on the FY 2012 appropriations bills.   

Even with extra time to finish work on appropriations bills Congress may not be able to come to an agreement on the individual appropriations bills like the FY 2012 Labor bill and be forced to pass a long term CR or roll several bills into a package called an Omnibus bill.  However, it is hoped that the amendment blocking the wage rule will bepart of whatever legislation Congress eventually passes to fund the government though fiscal year 2012.

If you have any questions please contact the AHC .