A showdown in Congress is on the horizon as labor unions and seasonal employers stake out turf over a federal rule set to take effect Jan. 1 that would raise the pay by 50 percent of migrant workers in jobs like seafood processing, lanscaping, forestry and other industries under the H-2B visa program. Opponents of the rule say it could have a crippling effect on the Gulf Coast seafood industry and Louisiana’s forestry businesses.

Led by Rep. Rodney Alexander, R-La., members of Congress from the Gulf Coast hope an amendment to the spending bill containing the proposed rule will pass next week in the House. Sen. Barbara Mikulski, a Maryland Democrat, has a similar amendment in the Senate that would block the new rule.

Supporters of the rule, which would increase the pay of legal migrant workers in Louisiana’s forestry industry from $9.60 to $16.35 an hour, say it will improve economic conditions for migrants who take labor-intensive jobs domestic workers are unwilling to take.

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