Thompson, Lucas join 50+ Republicans to disapprove of wage rule for ag workers

U.S. Reps. Glenn “GT” Thompson (R-PA) and Frank Lucas (R-OK) joined more than 50 of their Republican colleagues in introducing a resolution that would impede a U.S. Department of Labor (DOL) immigration wage rule for agricultural workers that they say negatively impacts America’s farmers.

“Food security is national security, and no industry is more affected by our broken immigration system than agriculture,” said Rep. Thompson, chairman of the U.S. House Agriculture Committee. “Ensuring a reliable, year-round workforce is critical to driving the economy, feeding the world, and promoting the safety and security of our nation.”

Rep. Thompson and Rep. Lucas on April 25 cosponsored House Joint Resolution (H.J.Res.) 59 with 52 other GOP original cosponsors. Sponsored by U.S. Rep. Ralph Norman (R-SC), the resolution of disapproval under the Congressional Review Act would bar the DOL’s final rule for H-2A Adverse Effect Wage Rates (AEWR) issued in February.

“The Biden administration’s latest H-2A wage rule would further undermine farmers’ access to a legal workforce, drive up already inflated production costs, and ultimately impact American consumers at the grocery store,” said Rep. Thompson, the lead original cosponsor of H.J.Res. 59.

Under the new rule, DOL requires a higher minimum payment for H-2A visa agricultural workers, according to the final rule published in the Feb. 28 Federal Register. The change increases H-2A wage rates and creates an administrative burden for all H-2A farmers who now must separately track each activity of every employee on their farms to avoid violating the new rule, according to the lawmakers. 

“The Labor Department’s rule would make it harder for farmers to access a legal and reliable workforce and drive-up food costs- both on the farm and at the grocery store,” said Rep. Lucas. “I’m proud to join my colleagues in blocking the Biden administration’s continued regulatory efforts that would threaten American family farm operations and limit their ability to meet the global food demand.”

Specifically, the new AEWR methodology ignores agricultural industry realities such as labor shortages; the impact of program costs on competitiveness at home and abroad; and the impact that higher costs have on job availability and downstream industries, according to a resolution summary provided by the lawmakers.

The resolution is supported by the entire steering committee of the Agriculture Workforce Coalition.

U.S. Sen. Tim Scott (R-SC) on April 25 sponsored the companion resolution of disapproval, Senate Joint Resolution 25, in his chamber alongside 27 GOP original cosponsors, including U.S. Sen. Thom Tillis (R-NC).