Speculation about omnibus provisions runs rampant
|There is widespread speculation today about what provisions the fiscal year 2023 omnibus appropriations bill will contain and when the bill will be released.|
Over the weekend, the Seasonal Employment Alliance reported that there could be a deal negotiated by Sen. Lindsay Graham, R-S.C., to increase the cap on H-2B workers from 66,000 to 125,000 with exemptions for the carnival industry, seafood processors, rural locations and horse racing.
The equine provision was supposedly inserted to gain the support of Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky.
But the North American Meat Institute objected to not being included in a proposal that had been negotiated with labor unions. NAMI said it supported raising the caps but only if the meat and poultry industries were included.
At the same time, advocates for liberalization of the H-2A visa system for farm workers and for farm labor reform in general have been trying to get a measure that would combine the House-passed Farm Workforce Modernization Act and the Senate version proposed last week by Sen. Michael Bennet, D-Colo., into the bill.
Today nearly 250 farm groups, co-ops and agribusinesses sent Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y., and McConnell a letter urging them to lead the Senate in passing Bennet’s bill before the end of the year.
But the latest speculation is that no immigration provision will be included in the bill.
Meanwhile, Food Fix, the newsletter started by Helena Bottemiller Evich, reported Friday that the omnibus may include an update and expansion of summer nutrition programs including Summer EBT, which allows families to buy groceries, and flexibility in the ways that nonprofits and schools can provide summer meals.
The changes may be paid for by an early end to the increased Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program benefits instituted during the pandemic, Food Fix said.
It’s still unclear when appropriators will release the bill. The Senate went back into session today. House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer, D-Md., has told the House to be prepared to be in session Wednesday, assuming the Senate has begun the processing of acting on the omnibus.
But there are also reports that the Senate will vote on Thursday and the House on Friday, the day that the one-week continuing resolution to fund the government ends.