A stop-gap spending bill to keep the government operating through the end of April does not include a provision that makes it easier for the horse racing industry to hire foreign guest workers who groom horses and perform other jobs, according to a McClatchy DC report.
The National Thoroughbred Racing Association wants Congress to renew an exemption to the H-2B visa cap that allows them to employ workers who have worked in the program in at least one of the past 3 years.
“The NTRA asks industry members to contact congressional leadership immediately and express the horse industry’s concerns and the need to reinstate the H-2B visa returning worker exemption,” according to an NTRA press release.
Without the guest worker exemption, the association says, horse trainers and breeders won’t be able to find enough workers, because they’ll be competing with other nonagricultural industries that rely on temporary, seasonal help.
“H-2B visas are used by employers to fill temporary, nonagricultural positions that they are unable to fill with domestic workers,” according to NTRA. “Horse trainers and other industry participants use the H-2B visa program to hire grooms and other stable help. The H-2B visa program has an annual cap of 66,000 visas. Qualified workers who complied with past visa requirements and worked in the program during one of the preceding 3 years will be excluded from the cap through the returning worker exemption.”
Congress must pass the bill to keep the government running past Friday, and it appears poised to do so without the visa exemption.
“This is very disappointing, but not surprising given the current environment in Washington,” said Alex Waldrop, the president and CEO of the National Thoroughbred Racing Association, in a statement. “We will continue to work with our colleagues and allies on Capitol Hill to seek a long-term solution to this complex issue.”