THIS WEEK IN CONGRESS - December 8, 2017

Dec 11, 2017

In this issue:


Trump FCC attacks net neutrality

We all know the frustration of waiting for a webpage to load or a video to buffer because of a slow internet connection. That is why I worked to convince Netflix to provide streaming service to our islands just like on the mainland. And that is why I am strongly opposed to the Trump Federal Communications Commission plan that will allow internet service providers to intentionally slow down content they do not want you to see or make it more expensive. The Obama administration put in place “net neutrality” rules that assured a free and open internet. So, no matter how you wanted to use the internet—for classroom learning applications, telemedicine, online shopping, or e-mail—you got the same level of service. The Trump FCC votes on December 14 to end net neutrality. I signed onto a letter to the FCC asking for the vote to be delayed and for more time for Americans to weigh in with their opinion on this issue.

Working for island family values

Caring for family—especially our elders—is a hallmark of island culture. Millions of our fellow Americans feel the same way and face difficult choices between going to work and caring for loved ones. That is why I am backing three important pieces of legislation. Together, the Family and Medical Insurance Leave Act, Healthy Families Act, and Schedules That Work Act mean that workers will not lose their job when called to care for a loved one. Meanwhile, 8 state legislatures and 32 local governments have not waited for the federal government to act; they have already taken the initiative to enact laws providing these protections for working families. But now, there is a corporate-backed move to use federal legislation to go around these local laws. As Ranking Member on the Health, Employment, Labor and Pensions Subcommittee, I spoke out against overriding local self-government like this at a hearing on Wednesday. And I will keep working for legislation that reflects our island culture and family values.

Ahead: NMBAC in Washington

Next week, the Northern Marianas Business Alliance Corporation is in Washington to talk about island workforce issues. We are scheduled to meet on Monday. I am looking forward to briefing NMBAC on progress the bicameral, bipartisan congressional working group is making to ensure we have sufficient labor to keep the Marianas economy going strong and to ensure that more and more local, U.S. workers join the labor force. It is not easy to find policies that are acceptable across a wide range of ideologies and also have a chance of passage by the House and the Senate in the coming year. But the same group worked successfully on passage of my bill, H.R. 339, the Northern Mariana Islands Economic Expansion Act, which the President signed into law in August. So I am optimistic that we can also be successful putting together a long-term solution for our labor needs.

FY18: more days of indecision

Sixty-eight days into fiscal year 2018, leadership is kicking the can down the road on making the necessary spending decisions – for the second time. Thursday’s votes in the House and the Senate keep the government open until December 22. In caucus, in committee, in conversation with Members on both sides of the aisle, I continue to press for action on what I see as our most urgent national priorities:

·         Parity between defense spending and the domestic budget, where almost all the funding for the Marianas comes from,

·         Funding for veterans and the fight against opioids,

·         Renewal of the Children's Health Insurance Program (CHIP) and Community Health Center spending, and

·         Passage of the DREAM Act.

Let us hope the extra days until December 22 are enough to reach agreement, so we will not have to kick the can into January.




Public Comments:



On the Floor

  • H.J.Res. 123 – The Continuing Appropriations Act, 2018 (Passed, 235-193)
  • H.R. 477 – Small Business Mergers, Acquisitions, Sales, and Brokerage Simplification Act of 2017 (Passed, 426-0)
  • H.R. 38 – Concealed Carry Reciprocity Act of 2017 (Passed, 231-198)
  • H.R. 3317 – SAFE Act (Passed, 409-0)
  • H.R. 1164 – Taylor Force Act (Agreed to by voice vote)
  • S. 1266 – Enhancing Veteran Care Act (Passed, 423-0)
  • H.R. 3731 – Secret Service Recruitment and Retention Act of 2017 (Passed, 407-4)
  • H.R. 2658 – Venezuela Humanitarian Assistance and Defense of Democratic Governance Act (Passed, 388-29)
  • H.Res. 259 – Expressing concern and condemnation over the political, economic, social, and humanitarian crisis in Venezuela (Passed, 419-8)
  • H.Con.Res. 90 – Condemning ethnic cleansing of the Rohingya and calling for an end to the attacks in and an immediate restoration of humanitarian access to the state of Rakhine in Burma (Passed, 423-3) 

Legislation I Cosponsored

  • H.R.947 – FAMILY Act
  • H.R.1516 – Healthy Families Act
  • H.R.2942 – Schedules That Work Act
  • H.R.4527 – Stop HATE Act of 2017
  • H.R.4548 – To amend the National Labor Relations Act to strengthen protections for employees to exercise their rights to organize and collectively bargain for improved wages, hours, or other terms and conditions of employment, to sanction violations of such rights and assure meaningful remedies, to establish a process by which employers and employees conclude initial collective bargaining agreements, and for other purposes


On the Floor

  • H.R. 2396 – Privacy Notification Technical Clarification Act
  • H.R. 4015 – Corporate Governance Reform and Transparency Act of 2017
  • H.R. 4324 – Strengthening Oversight of Iran’s Access to Finance Act
  • H.R. 1638 – Iranian Leadership Asset Transparency Act
  • H.R. 1730 – Combating Anti-Semitism Act of 2017
  • H.R. 3093 – Investor Clarity and Bank Parity Act

Committee Hearings

Tuesday, December 12

  • Committee on Education and the Workforce Markup on H.R. 4508, Promoting Real Opportunity, Success, and Prosperity through Education Reform (PROSPER) Act

Wednesday, December 13

  • Committee on Natural Resources Legislative Markup
  • Subcommittee on Disability Assistance and Memorial Affairs Oversight Hearing on "Pre-Discharge Claims Programs: Are VA and DOD Effectively Serving Separating Military Personnel?"