THIS WEEK IN CONGRESS - January 11, 2019

Jan 13, 2019

In this issue:

Marianas workers feel shutdown pinch

Lowey introduces disaster aid bill

SBA closing Saipan business center

Helping recovery, book by book

CAPAC, CHC memberships grow


Legislative Highlights


Marianas workers feel shutdown pinch

Hundreds of federal workers in the Marianas - 800,000 nationwide - are furloughed or working without pay, as the impasse drags on over government funding for the rest of the fiscal year. These include at least 26 Customs and Border Protection agents, hundreds of Transportation Security Administration inspectors, and many other employees who work in the Marianas for federal agencies such as the departments of Homeland Security, Agriculture, Interior, and Justice, and the Fish and Wildlife Service. Democrats in the House have already passed legislation that would reopen the government and pay federal workers. But the Republican leadership in the Senate refuses to vote on the bills that would open closed federal agencies -- bills the Republicans previously approved. 

Lowey introduces disaster aid bill

Appropriations Chairman Nita Lowey (D-New York) introduced her bill providing disaster assistance to the Marianas and other areas hit by hurricanes, wildfires, earthquakes, and volcanic eruptions in 2018. We met in her Capitol office the next day to discuss how the recovery is going and what additional funding is needed to help our islands. So far, after two months of intense work, I have been able to get specific set-asides in H.R. 268. And there are still more opportunities ahead in the legislative process. We have made our islands eligible for much of the $12.14 billion in the bill from the Rural Communities Facilities Program, the Economic Development Administration, the Federal Highway Administration, and other federal agencies. Getting those funds will also depend on good applications from the Commonwealth government. Thanks to Chairman Lowey for her help to the Marianas.

SBA center closing Wednesday

The U.S. Business Administration will close its business recovery center on Saipan at 5 p.m. on Wednesday, Jan. 16, the agency announced Friday. Until the center closes, SBA representatives will continue to meet with business owners to answer questions about SBA’s disaster loan program, explain the application process, help individuals complete their electronic loan applications and close their approved loans. The business recovery center is located in the Saipan Chamber of Commerce office on the third floor of Marianas Business Plaza in Susupe. No appointment is necessary. SBA customer service representatives will also continue to be available at the Disaster Recovery Center at the Multi-Purpose Center and at the SBA Disaster Loan Outreach Center at the Department of Commerce on Tinian.

CAPAC, CHC memberships grow

Two of the most important groups of House colleagues to my work on behalf of the Marianas, the Congressional Asian Pacific Islanders American Caucus (CAPAC) and the Congressional Hispanic Caucus (CHC), held their 116th Congress organizing meetings on Thursday with expanded memberships as a result of the 2018 elections. CAPAC’s executive board grew to 25 members, including myself; and the organization now has 83 members overall. CHC membership is now at 38. I spoke at the CHC meeting thanking the caucus members for their support of my efforts to secure disaster aid for our islands, especially Representatives Lucille Roybal-Allard (CA), José Serrano (NY), Henry Cuellar (TX) and Pete Aguilar (CA), who sit in the Appropriations Committee. With growing memberships and increasing influence in congressional decision-making, CAPAC and CHC Members are stalwarts in support of our communities.



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On the Floor

·     H.Res. 6 – A resolution providing for the House Rules of the 116th Congress (Title III adopted 235-192)

·     H.R. 264 – Financial Services and General Government Appropriations Act, 2019 (Passed, 240-188)

·     H.R. 265 – Agriculture, Rural Development, Food and Drug Administration, and Related Agencies Appropriations Act, 2019 (Passed, 243-183)

·     H.R. 266 – Department of the Interior, Environment, and Related Agencies Appropriations Act, 2019 (Passed, 240-179)

·     H.R. 267 – Transportation, Housing and Urban Development, and Related Agencies Appropriations Act, 2019 (Passed, 244-180)

·     S. 24 – Government Employee Fair Treatment Act of 2019 (Passed, 411-7)

·     H.R. 221 – Special Envoy to Monitor and Combat Anti-Semitism Act (Passed, 411-1)


On the Floor

H.R. 268 – Supplemental Appropriations Act, 2019