THIS WEEK IN CONGRESS - February 22, 2019

Feb 25, 2019

In this issue:

Hopwood gets new, temporary home

$53M to CUC for Yutu repairs

Trump plan cuts Tinian divert funds

Marianas reps named to VHA council

Veteran advisory group formed


Legislative Highlights


$53 million to CUC for Yutu repairs

The Commonwealth Utilities Corporation is getting $53,223,204.17 from the Federal Emergency Management Agency to repair damage Super Typhoon Yutu caused to the electrical distribution system, FEMA announced this week. The grant award will cover three-quarters of the total project cost, estimated at $71 million. Congratulations, CUC.

Trump plan cuts Tinian divert funds

Today I joined 225 of my colleagues in introducing a privileged resolution that terminates President Trump’s emergency declaration under the National Emergencies Act. By declaring an emergency to build a wall on the southern border, the President tries to go outside the law to get what he could not secure through the legislative process, even after partially shutting down the government for 35 days. The declaration undermines the separation of powers and could directly jeopardize hundreds of military construction projects already appropriated in FY 2019, including $50.7 million for Air Force divert airfield projects in Tinian. The billions of dollars that the President seeks for the wall are better spent on addressing actual emergencies such as disaster relief, climate change, gun violence, stagnant wages, and our broken immigration system. The House will vote on the resolution next week.

Marianas reps named to VHA council

This week I appointed Tania Mendiola to represent Tinian and Rota and Leslie Camacho to represent Saipan on the Veteran Health Administration’s Veteran Advisory Council. Ms. Mendiola handles veteran casework for the CNMI Military Veteran Affairs Office on Tinian. Herself a veteran, Ms. Camacho worked as a nurse at the VA outreach clinic on Saipan before joining the Commonwealth Health Care Corporation. With their knowledge and experience with veterans’ health issues, I am confident they will represent the Marianas well on the council. 

Veteran advisory group formed

Better service starts with listening. That’s why I established a veteran advisory council to help the congressional office hear the needs of our veterans and come up with the best solutions to address them. The six-member council is comprised of Retired Army Colonel Harry Blanco, veteran caregiver Erin Camacho, former Army Captain Leslie Camacho, CNMI Military Veteran Affairs representative Bernie Dela Cruz, Veterans of Foreign Wars representative Brad Ruszala, and businessman Theodore Parker. Each member brings with them a unique perspective in serving the veteran community. Thank you and I look forward to working with you all.



Public Comments:



The House is in recess for the District Work Period.


On the Floor

  • H.J. Res. 46 — Relating to a national emergency declared by the President on February 15, 2019
  • H.R. 8 — Bipartisan Background Checks Act of 2019
  • H.R. 1112 — To amend chapter 44 of title 18, United States Code, to strengthen the background check procedures to be followed before a Federal firearms licensee may transfer a firearm to a person who is not such a licensee
  • H.R. 583 — PIRATE Act
  •  H.R. 501 — Poison Center Network Enhancement Act of 2019
  • H.R. 525 — Strengthening the Health Care Fraud Prevention Task Force Act of 2019
  • H.R. 539 — Innovators to Entrepreneurs Act of 2019
  • H.R. 425 — Supporting Veterans in STEM Careers Act
  • H.R. 276 — Recognizing Achievement in Classified School Employees Act
  • S. 47 — Natural Resources Management Act

Committee Activity

Tuesday, February 26

  • Committee on Education and Labor Markup on H.R. 865, Rebuild America’s Schools Act of 2019 and H.R. 7, Paycheck Fairness Act. 
  • Subcommittee on Water, Oceans, and Wildlife Oversight Hearing on “The State of Water Supply Reliability in the 21st Century”
  • Senate and House Committees on Veterans’ Affairs Joint Hearing to receive the “Legislative Presentation of the Disabled American Veterans”

Wednesday, February 27

  • Committee on Natural Resources Legislative Hearing on H.R. 560, “Northern Mariana Islands Residents Relief Act”
  • Subcommittee on Early Childhood, Elementary, and Secondary Education Hearing on “Classrooms in Crisis: Examining the Inappropriate Use of Seclusion and Restraint Practices”
  • Senate and House Committees on Veterans’ Affairs Joint Hearing to receive the “Legislative Presentation of The American Legion”
  • Committee on Veterans’ Affairs Hearing on “VA 2030: A Vision for the Future of VA”