May 4 2017

Today, U.S. Senator Thom Tillis (R-NC) voted in favor of the FY17 Omnibus Appropriations bill, which funds key national and North Carolina priorities Senator Tillis has championed, including a pay raise for servicemembers, an increase of Afghan Special Immigrant Visas, and a provision that could result in an H-2B returning worker exemption.
“While not perfect, this bipartisan legislation takes key steps to bolster our national security, including increasing defense spending to rebuild our military and providing more funds to help secure our border,” said Senator Tillis. “I’m pleased that the omnibus gives the Department of Homeland Security flexibility to implement a returning worker exemption that would give much-needed certainty and relief to seasonal small businesses across the nation. I will work with my colleagues on both sides of the aisle to ensure this provision is implemented and that we have a workforce that can meet the growing needs of American businesses and local economies.”
Provisions Included In The FY17 Omnibus Appropriations Bill
Potential for H-2B Returning Worker Exemption
The omnibus gives the Secretary of Homeland Security the discretion to implement a returning worker exemption of the H-2B program which is vital to small and seasonal employers in North Carolina across the country who depend on temporary workers to sustain their businesses and supplement their existing American workforce. A “returning worker exemption” provision allows workers who have previously worked in the U.S. through the H-2B visa program to not count against the visa cap. Tillis recently introduced bipartisan legislation that makes substantive reforms to the H-2B program to assist seasonal employers, which includes a returning worker exemption.
Increase of Afghan Special Immigrant Visas (SIV)
The spending bill contains 2,500 additional SIVs for Afghans who have assisted American servicemembers and the American mission in Afghanistan and often risk their lives in the process. Senator Tillis has long advocated for extending this vital national security program, and recently joined Senators Jeanne Shaheen (D-NH), John McCain (R-AZ) and Jack Reed (D-RI) to introduce bipartisan legislation to provide 2,500 more visas. The legislation was included as a provision in the omnibus.
Increased Funding for the National Institutes of Health (NIH)
The omnibus increases the NIH’s budget by more than $2 billion, including an increase of $400 million for Alzheimer’s research and an increase of $476 million for the National Cancer Institute. Senator Tillis has been an outspoken advocate for increasing NIH funding to assist with the discovery of more effective treatments for diseases and accelerate the pace of finding cures. Earlier this year, Tillis and a bipartisan groups of senators sent a letter to President Trump, calling on him to support an increased federal investment in Alzheimer’s research.
Pay Raise for Servicemembers
The omnibus funds the 2.1% pay raise for servicemembers that was authorized by the FY17 National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA). This is the largest pay raise for troops in seven years.