Congress says no to $700 CW fee

Oct 8, 2018

The U.S. House of Representatives rejected a Trump administration proposal on September 26 to add a new $700 fee to CW permits in the Marianas. Instead the U.S. Department of Labor will be able to reprogram $8.25 million in unused funds to cover the cost of the new labor certifications required by my U.S. Workforce Act, Public Law 115-218. I worked with the appropriation conference committee to block the new fee—which would double the cost of a CW permit—for several weeks. The decision was part of H.R. 6157, the Department of Defense and Labor, Health and Human Services, and Education Appropriations Act, 2019 and Continuing Appropriations Act, 2019, which the President signed on September 28. Other important spending decisions:

  • $15.9 billion for Title I education grants, $100 million more than FY2018 and means more money for our Public School System as a result of the funding formula change I included in the Every Student Succeeds Act.
  • Military pay increases by 2.6 percent
  • $10.1 billion for Head Start, $200 million more than the FY2018 enacted level
  • $12.4 billion for Special Education Part B State Grants (IDEA), $87 million more than the FY2018 level
  • Increase in the maximum Pell Grant award by $100 to $6,195
  • $3.7 billion for the Low-Income Home Energy Assistance Program (LIHEAP), $50 million more than the FY2018 enacted level
  • $4.4 billion, a $100 million increase, for programs responding to the Opioid Crisis
  • $5.6 billion, a $200 million increase, for community health centers
  • $1.9 billion for Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration’s Substance Abuse Grants
  • $1.5 billion for SAMSHA’s State Opioid Response Grant
  • $160 million, a $15 million increase, for Registered Apprenticeship Grants (NMC is a registered apprenticeship program)
  • $2.8 billion for Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Grants to States The Northern Marianas receives approximately $1.43 million a year in Youth, Adult and Dislocated Worker funding under WIOA.
  • $1.6 billion for Department of Labor worker protection agencies (including OSHA and the Wage and Hour division, which has done much work in the Marianas in the past year).

Also of note in the Continuing Resolution is the temporary re-authorization of the Violence Against Women Act through December 7, although this is not the five-year reauthorization that I support as an original cosponsor of H.R. 65545. I was also an original cosponsor when VAWA was last reauthorized in 2013 and included a provision in Section 201 of the Act that doubled the funding allocated to the Northern Mariana Islands for the Sexual Assault Service Program. Section 809 of that law allowed women, who petition for status as victims of human trafficking or violence, to count the time lived in the Northern Marianas as time present in the United States, so they can more quickly adjust to a permanent immigrant status. Now, more than ever, we are all being made aware of how many lives are damaged by acts of sexual harassment and violence. We have to do everything we can to bring federal resources to bear on prevention, healing, and, where required, punishment.