THIS WEEK IN CONGRESS - Help for deported vets

Oct 15, 2017

In this issue: October 13, 2017


Pacific vets deserve better

Veterans living in the U.S. Pacific insular areas—especially the Marianas—are underserved by the Veterans Administration; and their Members of Congress want more attention to that problem. So, this Wednesday, Congresswoman Aumua Amata Coleman Radewagen (R-American Samoa) and I, who serve on the House Veterans Affairs Committee, and Congresswoman Madeleine Bordallo (D-Guam) made a formal request to Chairman Phil Roe (R-Tennessee) and Ranking Member Tim Walz (D-Minnesota) for an oversight hearing. I want to use the hearing to remind the Committee that the Marianas is the only U.S. jurisdiction without a VA medical facility, mental health resources, or full-time medical staff. We also lack any full-time Veterans Benefits Administration staff to help veterans get their benefits. These are deficits that cannot be ignored. All veterans should be able to access the benefits they earned where they live.

We should have a vote for President

Living in a democracy means we should all be able to vote for President. And a few residents of the Marianas, who were previously registered to vote in a U.S. state, are already allowed to do so under provisions of the Uniformed and Overseas Citizens Absentee Voting Act (UOCAVA). Now, the Trump administration proposes to take away that right to vote from people I represent. I am vehemently opposed—and not alone. Both the Republican National Committee and the Democratic National Committee have called for equal rights of citizenship for those of us living in U.S. “territories.” As Election Commissioner, I always encouraged citizens eligible under UOCAVA to vote for President. And I believe the vote is a right of citizenship that needs to be expanded to all Americans—not stripped away.

Supporting refuges and volunteers

This is National Wildlife Refuge Week and to emphasize the importance of these areas I introduced with eight of my colleagues, Republican and Democrat, in the House and the Senate, the Keep America’s Refuges Operational Act, H.R. 3979. The bill reauthorizes the National Wildlife Refuge System volunteer, community partnership and education program. Here in the Pacific Region of the National Wildlife Refuge system, volunteers are contributing over 200,000 hours a year, the equivalent of 100 full-time employees. This program and the volunteers help ensure public access to our refuges, which includes the Marianas Trench Wildlife Refuge, for exploring, hunting, fishing, and studying wildlife. Among the organizations supporting our legislation are the American Fisheries Society, the American Sportfishing Association, Trout Unlimited, Boy Scouts of America, and the U.S. Chamber of Commerce.





Legislative Highlights


On the Floor

  • H.Res.569 - Providing for the concurrence by the House in the Senate amendment to H.R.2266 (Additional Supplemental Appropriations for Disaster Relief Requirements Act 2017), with an amendment (Passed, 353-69)
  • Democratic Motion to Instruct Conferees on H.R.2810 – National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) for Fiscal Year 2018 (Failed, 184-237)
  • Motion on Closing Portions of the Conference on H.R. 2810  (Passed, 414-8)
  • S.585 – Dr. Chris Kirkpatrick Whistleblower Protection Act of 2017 (Passed, 420-0)
  • H.R.3243 – FITARA Enhancement Act of 2017 (Passed, 418-0)
  • H.R.2105 – NIST Small Business Cybersecurity Act of 2017 (Agreed to by voice vote) 
  • H.R.2763 – The Small Business Innovation Research and Small Business Technology Transfer Improvements Act of 2017 (Agreed to by voice vote)
  • S.190 – Power and Security Systems Act (Agreed to by voice vote)
  • S.920 – National Clinical Care Commission Act (Agreed to by voice vote)
  • H.R.378 – Bonuses for Cost-Cutters Act of 2017 (Agreed to by voice vote)
  • H.R.2196 – To amend title 5, United States Code, to allow whistleblowers to disclose information to certain recipients (Agreed to by voice vote)
  • H.R.2229 – All Circuit Review Act (Agreed to by voice vote)
  • H.R.2989 – Frederick Douglass Bicentennial Commission Act (Agreed to by voice vote)

Legislation I Sponsored

  • H.R.3979 - Keep America's Refuges Operational Act
  • H.R.3993 - American Samoa Investment Act of 2017
  • H.Res.560 - Encouraging observance of National Wildlife Refuge Week with appropriate events and activities, and for other purposes.


The House is on recess for the District Work Period.