Immigration Reform Update

Immigration reform is moving in the House of Representatives. Catch OFA’s webinar with Dave Runsten, Community Alliance with Family Farmers (CAFF) on immigration reform, the current proposed bill, and OFA’s position on immigration at this link.

The House of Representatives’ Judiciary Committee scheduled a full committee vote for Wednesday, November 20 on Congresswoman Zoe Lofgren’s (D-CA) Farm Workforce Modernization Act, HR 4916. In her press release introducing the legislation, the Congresswoman said the proposal makes meaningful reforms to the H-2A agricultural guest worker program and creates a first-of-its-kind, merit-based visa program specifically designed for the nation’s agricultural sector.

Lofgren along with Dan Newhouse (R-WA), Collin Peterson (D-MN), Mike Simpson (R-ID), Jimmy Panetta (D-CA), Doug LaMalfa (R-CA), and Mario Diaz-Balart (R-FL) are original sponsors of the bill.

While the legislation has 25 Republican co-sponsors, a party line vote is expected as the bill is passed out of the committee and sent to the floor for debate.

Judiciary Committee leadership is negotiating with Majority Leader Steny Hoyer for floor time the first week of December. Democratic leaders will be watching the November 20 markup to determine their floor strategy and schedule. A contentious markup could delay floor work as the December’s House floor schedule will be packed with other controversial issues.

During the last three weeks of the 2019 Congressional session, Congress will vote on immigration reform, funding the federal government for FY20 and an impeachment vote. The current Continuous Resolution (CR) funding the federal government expires on November 22. Congress is expected to pass a short-term CR until December 20.

Judiciary Committee staff suspects they could get 40 out of the 197 House Republicans to vote for immigration reform for the agriculture industry during floor debate, which would allow the proposal to be sent to the Senate.

The Senate schedule is much more complicated. The end of year work by the House will send both the immigration reform proposal and, as expected, impeachment to the Senate.

The impeachment trial by the Senate will consume almost all the attention. While the Majority and Minority need to come to an agreement on how the process will operate in the Senate, past impeachment precedent had the Senate working six days a week until the trial. That timeline would delay Senate action on the Farm Workforce Modernization Act until March.