President signs H.R. 83 continuing NMI immigration policies, funding federal government

Dec 19, 2014

On Tuesday, President Obama signed H.R. 83, the insular areas bill that was used as a vehicle to fund most of the federal government for fiscal 2015. I had six separate bills in motion to continue the bar on claims of asylum from the Northern Mariana Islands, protecting our tourist industry; to keep the NMI free of the national cap on the number of H visas, which should be useful to resort developers who need temporary construction workers; and to allow foreign investors, whom our own Commonwealth immigration law permitted in return for a minimum investment, to remain here for five more years. Of the six, H.R. 83 was the bill that made it over the legislative finish line. H.R. 83 also provides tens of millions of dollars in annual funding to the NMI for the remainder of FY2015. The following table lists some of the more high profile of those grants-in-aid. Most NMI funding (in parenthesis) is estimated to be about the same as for FY2014, though some allocations may go up or down based on changes in population or other factors. In FY2014 federal funding to the Northern Mariana Islands was $133 million, according to USASpending.gov.

“No money shall be drawn from the Treasury but in Consequence of Appropriations made by Law.” U.S. Constitution, article 1, section 9. Each year, each Member of the House of Representatives, including the insular area Delegates, submits to the House Appropriations Committee our recommendations for which programs to fund and what the funding amounts should be. Insular area representatives are treated no differently than other Members of Congress in this polling, which then becomes a basis for the annual spending bills drafted by the Committee.