THIS WEEK IN CONGRESS - February 07, 2020

Feb 10, 2020

In this issue:

·     We moved

·     House agrees to pay Earned Income Tax Credit

·     Help for taxpayers

·     We need affordable, quality child care

·     Supporting indigenous students

·     $422k for historic preservation

·     Inside Washington

·     Visit from the VA

·     New rule impacts CW extensions

·     Medicare info series scheduled

·     Books from the Hill

·     Welcome, Dillon Midson

·     Kilili Time Capsule

·     Opportunities

 ·     Legislative highlights

____________________________________________________________________________

House agrees to pay Earned Income Tax Credit

A cover-over of federal funds to the Commonwealth to enable payment of the Earned Income Tax Credit is included in the Puerto Rico Earthquake Supplemental (H.R. 5687), which passed the House today. I first introduced legislation in 2015 to make funding available for this credit. It can eliminate income taxes for lower-income working families and even increase their refund. Governor Torres made obtaining a federal cover-over a central goal of his Section 902 consultations the following year. Although the House has now passed the necessary legislation, the White House says the President will veto it. That could always change, of course. So, to prepare, I have alerted Commonwealth officials, because they will need to repeal Public Law 11-25 to get the federal funds. Public Law 11-25 is a 100 percent tax on the Earned Income Tax Credit for anyone in the Marianas who is eligible. The Joint Committee on Taxation estimates the Earned Income Tax credit cover-over to Marianas taxpayers would be $107 million over 10 years.

We need affordable, quality child care

Parents cannot work or get training, if they cannot find child care they trust - and can afford. This week, I held a hearing on what we can do to make sure young children in day care develop the intellectual and social skills they need to succeed in school and in life -- and how to make sure parents can afford that quality care. We heard from witnesses, who described their own struggles to pay for care. The national average is $16,000 per year. And we heard from witnesses who run day care facilities and learned what they need to create quality programs. Along with the Chairman of the Education and Labor Committee, Bobby Scott, and Senate counterparts Patty Murray (D-Washington), Bob Casey (D-Pennsylvania), and Mazie Hirono (D-Hawai’i), I have introduced the Child Care for Working Families Act to address these issues. One standard in our bill is that no family earning under 150 percent of state median income should have to pay more than seven percent of their income on child care. So, a Marianas family, with one wage earner making minimum wage, could get subsidized child care for about $90 per month. Watch the hearing here.

Supporting indigenous students

Legislative Director Adam Tanga showcased policies I have included in the College Affordability Act to help indigenous students at a panel discussion hosted by the American Indian Higher Education Consortium on Monday. Sections of the Act that I drafted will increase indigenous language educators and programs in the Marianas and nationwide and encourage more indigenous students to pursue STEM careers. Panelists answered questions from students attending tribal colleges and universities. Pictured: AIHEC President Carrie Billy, Adam Tanga, Senator Tom Udall’s Senior Policy Advisor Kim Moxley, and AIHEC Federal Relations Director Patrese Atine.

$422k for historic preservation

The Commonwealth’s Historic Preservation Office is receiving $422,463 in historic preservation grant funding, the National Park Service announced on Friday. Funds will be used to help with a variety of historic preservation and community projects focused on heritage preservation. Appropriated by Congress, Historic Preservation Fund grants are awarded annually to states and territories based on an apportionment formula for the identification, evaluation, and protection of historic properties and supporting activities such as planning, survey and inventory, registration, local and federal project review, acquisition, development, and public education. Congratulations to HPO.

New rule impacts CW extensions

The Trump administration can now deny extensions or deport CW-1 workers, E2-CNMI investors, and green card applicants, if deemed likely to become a public charge. A public charge is a person who receives government cash assistance for income or long-term care. Last week, the U.S. Supreme Court lifted a nationwide injunction that has been blocking the Public Charge rule. The U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services immediately announced applications will be subject to the rule, if postmarked or submitted after February 23, 2020. Minority communities, including more than a million Asians and Pacific Islanders, are expected to be disproportionately impacted by the Trump administration rule. That is why I joined fellow members of the Congressional Asian Pacific American Caucus, the Congressional Hispanic Caucus, and the Congressional Black Caucus in filing amicus briefs in opposition. Visit the green cards, CW-1, and E-2 CNMI websites for previews of the new forms and instructions.

Opportunities

Scholarships/Fellowships

·     President Harry S. Truman Scholarship (Due 2/24/20)

·     President James Madison Fellowship (Due 3/1/20)

·     Pacific Territory Fishery Capacity-Building

Jobs

·     Social Security Administration (for Veterans)

Grants

·     Assistance to Firefighters Grant

·     COPS Anti-Methamphetamine Program

·     School Violence Prevention Program

Public Comments

·     Drinking water data

Legislative Highlights 

THIS WEEK

·     H.R. 2382 - USPS Fairness Act (passed, 309-106)

·     H.R. 4044 - Protect and Restore America's Estuaries Act (passed, 355-62)

·     H.R. 4305 - PAWS for Veterans Therapy Act (passed by voice vote)

·     H.R. 3830 - Taxpayer Right-to-Know Act (passed by voice vote)

NEXT WEEK

·     H.R. 504 - DHS Field Engagement Accountability Act

·     H.R. 2932 - Homeland Security for Children Act

·     H.R. 4737 - Department of Homeland Security Climate Change Research Act