What: All Issues : Government Checks on Corporate Power : Software & Technology Industries : HR 2638. (Fiscal 2008 Homeland Security appropriations) Sanders of Vermont amendment that would bar regulations related to H-2B visas for temporary non-agricultural workers/On agreeing to the amendment (2007 senate Roll Call 280)
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HR 2638. (Fiscal 2008 Homeland Security appropriations) Sanders of Vermont amendment that would bar regulations related to H-2B visas for temporary non-agricultural workers/On agreeing to the amendment
senate Roll Call 280     Jul 26, 2007
Progressive Position:
Yea
Progressive Result:
Win

This vote was on an amendment by progressive Bernie Sanders, I-Vt., that would bar the use of funds in the underlying bill from being used to issue regulations related to H-2B visas for temporary workers in industries other than agriculture. H-2Bs are temporary visas issued for non-agricultural work, provided that no qualified U.S. worker is available for that position and that the wages paid to H-2B employees do not adversely impact U.S. wages and working conditions.

Sanders said that, in essence, the regulations his amendment would prohibit would allow employers to police themselves when it comes to determining whether or not Americans could fill those positions, and whether the wages paid to visa holders would harm the American workforce. Sanders said the regulations would replace the current process of having the Homeland Security and Labor departments examine an H-2B visa application and certify that issuing the visa would not displace American workers. Instead the visa applicant's employer would simply have to attest that the person would not be displacing American workers.

"The proposed regulations, for the most part, would only require employers to attest—to attest—to the Department of Homeland Security that they are following the law. All they have to do is say: ‘I am following the law. Trust us.' In other words, the Federal Government would take employers at their word that they are complying with the law, with little, if any, oversight," Sanders said. "Simply put, we must make sure that labor protections for American workers and for foreign workers who are temporarily working in our country—we must make sure these regulations are strengthened, not weakened."

No one spoke against the amendment. By a vote of 51-43, the Senate adopted the amendment. Every Democrat present voted for the amendment. All but three Republicans present voted against it (Jeff Sessions of Alabama, Arlen Specter of Pennsylvania and George Voinovich of Ohio). Thus, the bill went forward with language that would prohibit the government from implementing regulations that would allow employers, rather than the government, to certify that hiring someone under an H-2B visa would not harm the American workforce.

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