Washington, D.C. – U.S. Senator Mike Enzi, R-Wyo., voted in favor of an amendment to the supplemental appropriations bill today that would aid Wyoming businesses in finding the help they need during busy tourist seasons.
“In Jackson, Cody and some other areas of the state there is a huge demand for workers in the service sector and there are not enough interested local workers to fill the gap. Businesses are suffering because they can’t find workers,” said Enzi. “This legislation focuses on individual businesses and workers.”
Enzi was a co-sponsor of amendment 387 which the Senate passed by a vote of 94-6. The amendment would make changes to the H2B Visa program to help small businesses hire foreign workers for a limited length of time once they have proven that no local workers are available to fill the job. The employer is held responsible for terminating the employment at the end of a specified time and the employee is required to return to their home country upon completion of the job.
“This provision would allow businesses to continue operating during the busy months when extra help is most needed,” said Enzi. “This is the second summer that some businesses haven’t been able to operate at full capacity due to a lack of workers. It is an emergency situation for many small businesses and this provision will provide relief until Congress can discuss a more comprehensive plan. This is not the case of a worker coming to an area and looking for a job, but rather the job looking for a worker.”
Workers who have used the H2B program in the past three years and have returned to their home country following their employment would now be exempt from the H2B visa cap.
“We should not punish the employers and workers who have used the system correctly by adding them in the total number of H2B Visas approved,” said Enzi. “A return worker has acquired the specialized skills the individual business requires and is invaluable for a small business.”
Enzi noted the specific nature of the H2B provision.
“This amendment is about keeping Wyoming businesses healthy. It allows employees to temporarily contract outside help, but it does not give those workers residency status,” said Enzi.
Enzi voted against two amendments to the supplemental appropriations bill that would provide amnesty to illegal aliens who have left the United States only to return and request legal residence.
When the final supplemental appropriations bill is completed by the Senate it will be considered by a House and Senate conference committee.