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Cochran cosponsors amendment postponing changes to visa program

WASHINGTON — Sen. Thad Cochran (R-Miss.) is co-sponsoring an amendment to again stop the U.S. Department of Labor from implementing new regulations for a temporary foreign worker visa program that, according to Cochran, would make it harder for seasonal industries, like shrimping, to survive.

Cochran is vice chairman of the Senate Appropriations Committee that approved an amendment by Sen. Richard Shelby (R-Ala.) to delay for one year the implementation of two rules on the H-2B non-agricultural temporary worker program. The amendment was added to the FY2013 Labor, Health and Human Services and Education (Labor-HHS) Appropriations Bill.

Cochran said, “I question the merits of these new federal regulations, especially in the midst of an economy that is trying to gain traction.  It seems to me that we should be looking to make it easier for small businesses to thrive, not making it more difficult.”

Cochran said one rule would increase wage rates for H-2B workers by more than 50 percent. A delay of this rule was approved by Congress last year, but it expires Sept. 30. The second Labor Department rule would complicate the program for seasonal employers by imposing new recruitment and wage requirements for these temporary workers.

The Shelby amendment was approved 19-11.

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