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Susan Collins Presses Labor Secretary Nominee To Consider H2B Work Visa Issue

Graeme Jennings
Pool via AP
Sen. Susan Collins, R-Maine, speaks during a Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee hearing on the nomination Boston Mayor Marty Walsh to be labor secretary on Capitol Hill, Thursday, Feb. 4, 2021.

Republican U.S. Sen. Susan Collins questioned labor secretary nominee Marty Walsh at his confirmation hearing Thursday about the H2B visa program, which she says is important for the Maine’s seasonal hospitality industry.

The H2B program provides temporary work visas to foreigners who come here to fill seasonal jobs. Collins told Walsh that Maine’s tourism industry has traditionally faced a shortage of workers during the summer tourist season, and relies on the H2B program.

“During our tourism season in an ordinary year, we will have four times the population of the entire state come to the great state of Maine,” she said. “It’s not that the businesses are not trying to find Maine workers, there are simply not enough. We had a great deal of trouble working with the past administration on this issue.”

Collins secured a promise from Walsh that if confirmed, he will consider the importance of the program to states facing worker shortages during certain times of the year.

Journalist Mal Leary spearheads Maine Public's news coverage of politics and government and is based at the State House.