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National Restaurant Association - Congressional opposition mounts against H-2B rules

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Congressional opposition mounts against H-2B rules

Members of Congress are voicing their opposition to new regulations that govern the H-2B program.

Nearly 40 members of the Senate and House of Representatives are urging the Department of Labor to withdraw the rules.

In a May 17 letter to Labor Secretary Hilda Solis, the lawmakers noted, "Because of the importance of the H-2B program to their businesses, some of these companies have incurred significant financial costs by contesting the rules in the courts as a means of protecting their businesses and full-time workers."

The letter also notes that a federal court validated the businesses' claims by temporarily prohibiting the federal agency from implementing the rules.

The National Restaurant Association, as part of the H2-B Workers Coalition, is among the groups that oppose the new rules, which make it nearly impossible for businesses to hire seasonal workers under the H-2B visa process. The groups' lawsuit said the Labor Department didn't have statutory authority to issue the rules, and didn't conduct proper cost analyses. The suit also called the rule arbitrary and capricious.

In late April, a federal court in Florida agreed with the coalition and other plaintiffs that the Labor Department didn't have authority to issue to the rules.

In their letter to Solis, members of Congress said they expected lawmakers and businesses to continue to fight the new rules.

"Because the tide of opposition to these rules appears to be growing, we feel that any further efforts by DOL to impose these rules will only result in wasted time, money and resources," the letter said. "Therefore, we strongly urge you to officially withdraw both pending H-2B rules."

The H-2B program allots 66,000 visas a year for foreign workers to fill temporary or seasonal positions that businesses can't fill with domestic employees. Restaurants in resort areas rely heavily on the H-2B program.

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