The Construction industry, like much of the rest of the country, now turns its attention to the House of Representatives as sweeping immigration reform moves to the lower chamber where Republicans control the agenda. As we've reported, the industry was working hard to persuade senators to lift the arbitrarily low cap on construction workers. The Washington Post now reports that they've lost the battle:
"While industry advocates say the companies will need to hire more than 200,000 new workers per year, under the Senate bill the number of foreign-worker construction visas can never exceed 15,000 per year.
The setback, unusual for an otherwise powerful special-interest lobby, reflects the political tightrope being walked by each party as leaders try to pass an immigration overhaul while balancing concerns from influential skeptics.
Construction lobbyists, unlike their brethren in a host of other industries, have been stymied by large numbers of lawmakers in both parties. Labor unions, who say high unemployment among construction workers belies industry claims about how many workers they need, are pressuring Democrats to oppose an expanded guest-worker program. And many conservative Republicans are wary of adding foreign-worker visas of any kind."
While it seems the Senate's version of immigration reform is a non-starter in the House, there is hope that the piecemeal approach preferred by Republicans can yield something that makes sense for an industry that struggles to find enough authorized workers.
Your thoughts are welcome in the comments.