In this issue:
The National Oceanic Atmospheric Administration listed the Marianas Trench Marine National Monument as a potential National Marine Sanctuary this week, a significant step toward the goal of sanctuary status that Governor Torres and I requested of then-President Obama last September. We both view Sanctuary status as a way to fulfill the promises of economic, environmental, and cultural benefit made when the Monument was created by President George Bush. Friends of the Marianas Trench, led by Mr. Ignacio Cabrera, followed up in November by filing a nomination petition backed by Commonwealth legislators, community leaders, and the 1,500 residents of the Marianas and Guam who signed a petition in favor of sanctuary designation. With this strong backing, Governor Torres and I will urge NOAA and the new Trump administration to begin the process of public consideration, set out in the National Marine Sanctuaries Act, that can now lead to making the Monument a National Marine Sanctuary.
The good news in the FY18 budget released by President Trump on Thursday is an increase in Title I education grants. I was successful at getting a larger share of this money for the Marianas in the Every Student Succeeds Act in 2015—the only funding formula change in the law. And, at the level the President has budgeted, our schools would receive $12.2 million next year, an increase of $5.2 million. I was also glad to see that the Trump budget protects Clean Water and Safe Drinking Water State Revolving Fund monies administered by the Environmental Protection Agency. The funding formula change in those two programs, won in the years since I came into office, has brought our islands $59 million in new infrastructure money. Elsewhere, the President’s budget is grim. $54 billion in new money for the Pentagon is taken out of domestic programs nationwide. The table below estimates the cuts to the Marianas. A second, expanded budget blueprint is expected from the President in May.
The rule, presuming that anyone who served in the military at Camp Lejeune between 1953 and 1987 was exposed to toxic drinking water, went into effect on March 14. Some members of the military, the reserve, and the National Guard stationed at the Marine Corps base in North Carolina during those years have subsequently been diagnosed with adult leukemia, myelodysplastic syndromes including aplastic anemia, cancer of the bladder, kidney and liver, multiple myeloma, non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma, or Parkinson’s disease. Under the new rule, these servicemembers may be eligible for disability benefits. To apply servicemembers must provide records showing at least 30 days of service at Camp Lejeune or MCAS New River, including satellite camps and housing areas, and medical diagnosis of one of the eight covered diseases. For more information go here.
The U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services announced on Wednesday that visitors to USCIS facilities, including the Application Support Center in Saipan, may now use cell phones, laptops, and tablets in the offices with certain restrictions. The camera and recording features of phone are prohibited at all times, except during naturalization or citizenship ceremonies. In addition, devices must be silenced while in the waiting area or other common areas and turned off completely during interviews or when seeking assistance at the information center.
On the floor
Legislation I Co-sponsored
On the Floor
Tuesday, March 21
Wednesday, March 22