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The U.S. Congress passed the Continuing Resolution, Stopgap Funding Bill (CR), on Dec. 9 to prevent a government shutdown and continue funding for federal programs and services until April 28, 2017. The short-term spending bill maintains the current budget cap level of $1.07 trillion put into place under the Budget Control Act of 2011 and continues funding provisions included in currently enacted fiscal year 2016 appropriations legislation.

The CR did not include a provision, however, to reinstate the H-2B returning worker exemption. The program, which was in effect for much of fiscal year 2016, but expired on September 30, 2016, permits employers to temporarily hire nonimmigrants to work in the United States for a limited period of time such as a one-time occurrence, seasonal need, peakload need or intermittent need.

Ahead of the vote, ABC, along with a coalition of business groups, sent a letter to House and Senate appropriators encouraging them to address the H-2B returning worker exemption in the funding bill. As the coalition explained in its letter, the program “provides an opportunity for U.S. businesses to operate at a greater capacity, retain their full-time workers and contribute to their local economies. Seasonal workers help support many upstream and downstream jobs. Every H-2B worker is estimated to create and sustain 4.64 American jobs.”

ABC will continue to emphasize the importance of the H-2B returning worker exemption to merit shop contractors in the construction industry and urge Congress to make its reauthorization a priority when it returns in January 2017.