FY21 funding benefits Marianas

Jul 27, 2020
On Friday the House passed H.R. 7608, a “minibus” package of four FY 2021 spending bills: State-Foreign Operations, Agriculture-Rural Development-FDA, Interior-Environment, and Military Construction and Veterans Affairs. The bill now goes to the Senate for consideration. Some highlights benefitting the Marianas include:
 
  • Continuation of the 1.5 percent set-asides for the insular areas in Clean Water Act and Safe Drinking Water Act funds over the statutory set-asides of 0.25 and 0.33 percent, respectively. The increase, which I started during my first term in Congress, has resulted in $85 million for the Northern Marianas through FY 2020 and brought 24-hour water to most Saipan households.
  • $2.76 billion for Clean Water and Drinking Water State Revolving Funds, equal to the FY 2020 level which brought $7.2 million for the Northern Mariana Islands
  • $22.8 million for Office of Insular Affairs Technical Assistance grants, an increase of $2 million above the FY 2020 enacted level and $8.1 million above the President’s budget request
  • $12 million for the Energizing Insular Communities Program, $5.75 million above the FY20 level and $9.2 million above the budget request, to develop and implement action plans to help lower energy costs in the insular areas. Report language also directs Interior to improve reporting requirements of the program as prescribed in Public Law 113-235
  • $4.38 million in Maintenance Assistance grants
  • $3.5 million for the Brown Tree Snake Interdiction Program
  • $2.6 million for the Coral Reef Initiative and Natural Resources Program
 
  • $12 million for the Commonwealth’s Nutrition Assistance Program
  • $10 million for grants to the Marianas and other insular areas to increase production of locally grown food
 
  • VA must report on the  feasibility to assign full-time, permanent VBA, Vet Center, and VHA staff in the Marianas and other underserved areas. 
  • VA’s hiring practices will be audited to determine whether the VA is fully using its existing authorities to recruit and retain qualified staff to serve Pacific veterans.