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Lawmakers Start to Debate Labor Concerns

July 8, 2011

The past few weeks have generated a flurry of action on the labor front. Two weeks ago, Rep. Lamar Smith (R-Texas) introduced a bill mandating use of the Electronic Verification System (E-Verify) for all employers (H.R. 2164). This follows a Supreme Court decision legalizing state mandated electronic verification for employers. The legislation was followed by a companion bill, the Accountability Through Electronic Verification Act (S. 1196), which was introduced by Sen. Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa).

This past month, Sen. Robert Menendez (D-N.J.), along with Senators Patrick Leahy (D-Vt.), Harry Reid (D-Nev.), Dick Durbin (D-Ill.), Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.), John Kerry (D-Mass.) and Kirsten Gillibrand (D-N.Y.), introduced the Comprehensive Immigration Reform Act of 2011 (S. 1258). This bill includes the AgJobs legislation language, a dairy H2A-fix introduced by Sen. Leahy and Sen. Mike Enzi (R-Wyo.) earlier this year, and some form of a mandatory electronic verification system.

Despite all of the action on this issue, unfortunately it seems as if Congress is far from reaching any type of compromise on labor issues in the near future. The National Milk Producers Federation continues to seek a workable, passable program and is working with all organizations that pursue the same goal: to help U.S. dairy farmers obtain the necessary labor to operate efficiently.