THIS WEEK IN CONGRESS - January 25, 2019

Jan 28, 2019

In this issue:

Surviving Typhoon Trump

Hearing: parole bills, H visa decision

Share your survivor story

No disaster money for wall

$3.3M for Yutu expenses

Shark bill respects the oceans

Working with OIA

Warm welcome for Cruz family


Legislative Highlights


AT LAST! Trump agrees to reopen government

As we go to press, the President has announced that he is now willing to reopen the government and pay federal workers. The President has accepted a continuing resolution to fund the government through February 15, the same deal the President rejected 34 days ago.

Hearing: parole bills, H visa decision

As a senior majority member of the House Natural Resources Committee, I am quickly scheduling a hearing on recent immigration decisions by the Trump administration that hurt the Marianas. In December, the administration decided to end humanitarian parole for immediate relatives of U.S. citizens and other long-time residents. Last week, the Trump administration removed the Philippines from the list of countries eligible for H visas. This ill-timed decision comes when reconstruction from the typhoons is underway and our need for temporary workers is high. I am also concerned about a pending decision to end parole for Chinese and Russian tourists to the Marianas. Commonwealth officials have said the Trump administration would never end tourist parole. The hearing will be an opportunity to ask that question and find out for sure. The tentative date for the hearing is February 27th. To make the hearing meaningful, I will want to have witnesses from the Trump administration there to explain their decisions and their views on the legislation I have already introduced to reverse these actions.

Share your survivor story

As Congress examines the federal response to recent disasters in the Marianas, and across the nation, and how recovery efforts can be improved in the future, I would like to ask everyone who experienced Super Typhoon Yutu and Typhoon Mangkhut to share your survival stories. Your first-hand accounts will help me paint a more complete, and human, picture of the devastation we survived and the help we received – or did not receive – in the aftermath of these storms. Your stories will help identify how to improve the federal response to future disasters and, perhaps, even save lives. Written personal stories in any length may be submitted, along with photographs or videos, to Survivors need not disclose their names, and confidentiality will be maintained for all submissions. For more information, contact Randy Johnson at the congressional office at 670.323.2647, or email


No disaster money for wall

If the President can take disaster relief money from Puerto Rico to build a wall, the Marianas could be next. So when the Trump administration began suggesting that funding Congress appropriated last year to help Puerto Rico recover from Hurricane Maria should be diverted to build the President’s border wall, I joined 56 of my colleagues in a letter saying “no.” In fact, the Trump administration is already opposing funding in H.R. 268, the disaster spending bill I got through the House last week with more money for Marianas Medicaid, food stamps, and reconstruction above and beyond what FEMA pays for. The official Statement of Administration Policy on H.R. 268 opposed funding for the EPA, of which $10.4 million is tagged for Marianas water and sewer systems. The administration opposed $600 million for Economic Development Administration disaster grants, $150 million the Department of Agriculture’s Rural Development program, and $1.2 billion for Community Development Block Grant Disaster Recovery — all of which the Marianas is eligible for. And the Trump administration opposed waiving the local match for FEMA funds, which Commonwealth officials requested and I included in H.R. 268, as well as giving FEMA the authority to rebuild infrastructure, not to the same condition as before typhoons struck, but to a condition that would withstand typhoons in the future.

$3.3M for Yutu expenses

The Federal Emergency Management Agency has reimbursed the Commonwealth for $3,289,897.13 spent by the Office of Homeland Security and Emergency Management to stand up the emergency operation center and temporary shelters in the face of Super Typhoon Yutu. Congress provides this money to cover emergency protective measures taken by states and territories to reduce or eliminate threats to life, public health, or safety due to natural disasters.

Shark bill respects the oceans

Wednesday, I introduced legislation banning the trade in shark fins throughout the United States. The Shark Fin Sales Elimination Act of 2019, H.R. 737, already has 68 bipartisan cosponsors. Rep. Michael McCaul of Texas, ranking Republican on the House Foreign Affairs Committee, agreed to collaborate with me to get this legislation passed. And major ocean environmental and animal protection groups Oceana, the Humane Society Legislative Fund, Animal Wellness Action, and the Animal Welfare Institute are strong supporters. The bill mirrors Marianas conservation law and similar bans on the sale, purchase, or possession of shark fins in 14 other states and territories. It also reflects our values. Destroying millions of sharks each year simply for their fins is a wasteful practice that our indigenous Chamorro and Refaluwasch cultures would never have allowed. Our ancestors understood life comes from the oceans. And the strong, bipartisan support behind H.R. 737 shows today more and more people understand we must give the oceans our full respect.





On the Floor

  • H.R. 648 – Consolidated Appropriations Act, 2019 (Passed, 234-180)
  • H.J.Res. 28 – Further Additional Continuing Appropriations Act, 2019 (Passed, 229-184)
  • H.J.Res. 31 – Making further continuing appropriations for the Department of Homeland Security for fiscal year 2019 (Passed, 231-180)
  • H.R. 439 – National FFA Organization’s Federal Charter Amendments Act (Agreed to by voice vote)
  • H.R. 498 – Clean Up the Code Act of 2019 (Agreed to by voice vote)
  • H.R. 31 – Caesar Syria Civilian Protection Act of 2019, as amended (Agreed to by voice vote)
  • H.R. 353 – To direct the Secretary of State to develop a strategy to regain observer status for Taiwan in the World Health Organization, and for other purposes (Agreed to by voice vote)
  • H.R. 676 – NATO Support Act (Passed, 357-22)
  • H.R. 328 – Hack Your State Department Act (Passed, 377-3)

Sponsored Legislation

  • H.R.737 – To prohibit the sale of shark fins, and for other purposes
  • H.R. 560 – To amend section 6 of the Joint Resolution entitled “A Joint Resolution to approve the Covenant To Establish a Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands in Political Union with the United States of America, and for other purposes”
  • H.R.559 – To amend section 6 of the Joint Resolution entitled “A Joint Resolution to approve the Covenant To Establish a Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands in Political Union with the United States of America, and for other purposes”
  • H.Amdt.15 to H.R. 268 – To increase funding for the Marianas food stamps block grant by $15 million to cover the cost of households, not previously eligible for aid, who remain in need of assistance because of continuing income loss after Typhoon Mangkhut and Super Typhoon Yutu
  • H.Amdt.14 to H.R. 268 – To increase the funding for the Northern Marianas Medicaid program by $16 million to help the islands in recovery from Typhoon Mangkhut and Super Typhoon Yutu

Cosponsored Legislation

  • H.R.724 – To revise section 48 of title 18, United States Code, and for other purposes
  • H.R.665 – To repeal section 3003 of the Carl Levin and Howard P. “Buck” McKeon National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2015
  • H.R.663 – To direct the Secretary of Defense to include in periodic health assessments, separation history and physical examinations, and other assessments an evaluation of whether a member of the Armed Forces has been exposed to open burn pits or toxic airborne chemicals, and for other purposes
  • H.R.657 – To provide loans to employees of the Federal Government and the government of the District of Columbia affected by a Government shutdown, and for other purposes
  • H.R.656 – To require the Attorney General to make grants to nonprofit organizations to offer legal assistance to certain aliens lawfully admitted for permanent residence, DACA recipients, and refugees, and for other purposes
  • H.R.628 – To title 38, United States Code, to permit veterans to grant access to their records in the databases of the Veterans Benefits Administration to certain designated congressional employees, and for other purposes
  • H.R.582 – To provide for increases in the Federal minimum wage, and for other purposes
  • H.R.576 – To expand Medicare coverage to include eyeglasses, hearing aids, and dental care
  • H.R.557 – To render certain military spouses eligible for adjustment of status
  • H.R.541 – To limit the separation of families at or near ports of entry
  • H.R.367 – Pay Our Coast Guard Parity Act of 2019
  • H.R.299 – Blue Water Navy Vietnam Veterans Act of 2019
  • H.R.51 – Washington, D.C. Admission Act
  • H.Res.58 – Supporting the goal of increasing public school teacher pay and public education funding
  • H.Res.51 – Supporting the contributions of Catholic schools


On the Floor

  • A schedule has not yet been announced.

Committee Activity

Tuesday, January 29

  • Committee on Education and Labor organizational meeting to introduce new members, consider and adopt the Rules of the Committee, report and approve subcommittee Chairs, Ranking Members, and assignments, and present the Committee Oversight Plan

Thursday, January 31

  • Committee on Education and Labor hearing on the “Consequences of the Shutdown: Endangering Students, Workers, Families, and Communities”