NMI bills piggyback on Defense Act

Dec 6, 2020

The House and Senate conference committee agreed to include a number of Northern Marianas bills in the FY21 National Defense Authorization Act Thursday. The NDAA, which has passed without fail for 59 straight years, is one of the best opportunities to piggyback legislation, even if not directly defense related. Here are the provisions I secured to benefit the Marianas:

·     NMI Small Business Development Act

Businesses in the Marianas will have more access to federal Small Business Administration programs under terms of my Northern Mariana Islands Small Business Development Act, included in the final version of the NDAA. My bill, H.R. 6021, makes the Marianas eligible for funding to establish a Small Business Development Center Lead Center. It will, also, provide technical assistance to Marianas small businesses interested in seed funding from the Small Business Innovation Research and Small Business Technology Transfer programs.

·     NMI STEM, Career Education

The NDAA also includes two bills I authored to expand education opportunities in our islands. H.R. 6786 includes the Marianas in the Defense Department’s STARBASE education program, which aims to improve students’ skills in the STEM fields (science, technology, engineering, and math). STARBASE partners military installations with schools having high proportions of economically and educationally disadvantaged students. And H.R. 7112, the Military Spouse Career Education Act, will help wives and husbands of service members finish their college degrees more quickly and get the training needed to re-license in their professions, when they must move to a new location under military orders.

·     Saving children’s lives

Also piggybacking on the NDAA is my bill, H.R. 4614, adding the Marianas and other insular areas to the national AMBER alert system for finding missing children. AMBER alerts mobilize the community via radio, TV, and text messages and have helped locate almost one thousand children, since the system was created in 1996. My AMBER Alerts Nationwide Act will give law enforcement in the Marianas the financial and technical resources from the U.S. Departments of Justice and Transportation to implement AMBER alerts in our community, hopefully saving lives. My bill also seeks to close gaps in coverage nationwide by specifying airports, seaports, and border crossing areas.