Congress

Horse racing business is unhappy that visa provision for workers isn’t being renewed

Horse breeders and trainers are pushing Congress to extend an H2B visa waiver program for guest workers they depend on to perform a variety of critical jobs.
Horse breeders and trainers are pushing Congress to extend an H2B visa waiver program for guest workers they depend on to perform a variety of critical jobs. AP

A bill to keep the government funded through the end of April does not include a provision that would have made it easier for the horse racing industry to hire foreign guest workers who groom horses and perform other jobs.

The National Thoroughbred Racing Association wants Congress to renew an exemption to the H2B visa cap that allows them to employ workers who have worked in the program in at least one of the past three years.

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.

The current H2B visa cap stands at 66,000 workers a year for the country.

Congress must pass the stopgap spending bill, known as a continuing resolution or CR, 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.”

Waldrop’s group would ultimately prefer that Congress develop a permanent solution to the guest worker visa cap in a comprehensive immigration overhaul.

Curtis Tate: 202-383-6018, @tatecurtis

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