THIS WEEK IN CONGRESS - December 03, 2021

Dec 5, 2021


Infrastructure Act: $21M for Marianas water

The first-year allotment of water and sewer funding for the Marianas from the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act is $20,794,000, the Environmental Protection Agency announced Thursday. The IIJA will provide this funding, particularly aimed at historically underserved communities, annually for five years, through 2026. The new money is in addition to the Clean Water Act and Safe Drinking Water Act monies the Commonwealth Utility Corporation receives each year from Congress. The House-passed Interior Appropriation for FY22 increased those funds for the Marianas to an estimated $8.4 million, but the Senate has not yet approved a 2022 spending bill. Having achieved 24-hour water for virtually all Marianas households because of the funding formula changes I won in 2010, the next goal is for every household to have water that is not only “potable,” but also “palatable." That means not only free of bacteria and other harmful substances, but clear and good tasting right out of the tap. Now we have the money to reach this goal!

83/17 Medicaid match extended 

The thousands of individuals in the Marianas who depend on Medicaid for their health care insurance will see no interruption in coverage after President Biden signed this afternoon a continuing funding resolution that extends the current Medicaid 83/17 federal/local match arrangement through February 18, 2022. Without this extension the Commonwealth’s cost share would have reverted from 17 percent to 45 percent and put at risk those insured by Medicaid. We first set the 17 percent local match, the lowest in the nation, in Public Law 116-94 two years ago, then extended it in a continuing resolution through today, December 3. I led an effort by insular area representatives to make sure the 83/17 FMAP, as it is called, did not fall through the legislative cracks, when this newest continuing resolution was negotiated. Of course, what is needed is the permanent 83/17 FMAP included in the Build Back Better Act, which the House passed in November with no Republican support. Democratic leadership in the Senate have promised to get the Build Back Better Act to the President for signature by the end of the year.

NMI bills piggyback on Defense Act

The House and Senate conference committee agreed to include a number of Northern Marianas bills in the FY21 National Defense Authorization Act Thursday.

Bill increases FY2017 CW cap

Tuesday, I introduced H.R. 6401, the Northern Mariana Islands Economic Expansion Act, to increase the number of CW permits for FY 2017 to 15,000, the same level as FY 2013. The bill provides short-term relief to those employers unable to apply for CW permits, since applications closed abruptly in October.

Insular Delegates protest proposed changes to Upward Bound/TRIO funding

Along with the rest of the insular area delegation, I wrote to Education Secretary Arne Duncan, urging him to reconsider a recent proposal that would reduce expenditures for the Upward Bound/TRIO program and make it harder for the insular areas to compete for grant funds.



Public Comments:


  • H.R. 6119 - Making further continuing appropriations for FY ending in Sept. 30, 2022, & for other purposes (passed, 221-212)