FY15 appropriations progressing

May 30, 2014

The fiscal 2015 appropriations process continues to inch forward. We highlight the legislative action and various funding decisions important to the Northern Mariana Islands:

  • The House of Representatives passed the fiscal 2015 Commerce, Justice, Science Appropriations bill, H.R. 4660. The majority approved a floor amendment, barring funding for the National Ocean Policy, which, I believe, will harm our efforts to sustain the health of our oceans. An amendment to cut all funds for the Legal Services Corporation was, fortunately, defeated, though funding was still cut $15 million below last year. In the Northern Marianas, Micronesian Legal Services Corporation provides free legal assistance in civil matters for those who could not otherwise afford to pursue justice.
  • At the Committee level House Appropriations approved the 2015 Agriculture spending bill. It includes $12.148 million for the Northern Marianas nutrition assistance program. The bill also directs the Department of Agriculture to complete its study of adding the Northern Marianas to the national Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, or SNAP, as required under the recently enacted Agricultural Act of 2014. The study is budgeted at $1 million for 2014 and 2015 with an additional $30.5 million to increase food stamp benefits beginning as early as October 2015.
  • The Appropriations Committee also approved the FY15 Transportation and Housing and Urban Development bill with transit formula grants funded at $8.6 billion, the same as the FY14 level at which the Commonwealth received $812,806 in formula grant aid.