THIS WEEK IN CONGRESS - January 29, 2016

Feb 2, 2016

In this issue:

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AAFES Troop Store expansion project awarded.

The Army & Air Force Exchange Service has announced that local contractor, RNV Construction, has been awarded a $1.8 million contract for expansion of the troop store at the Army Reserve Center on Saipan. The 1,120 square-foot store will be expanded to 5,000 square-feet. Construction is expected to be complete by December 2016. I have been working on improving the store since my first term in Congress. A study I included in the 2011 National Defense Authorization Act determined the project to be viable, but the expansion was delayed for over two years, while a team from the U.S. Navy made sure there was no unexploded ordnance on the site. The existing store, which serves nearly 4,000 active and reserve service members, retirees, and their families is small, deteriorating, and in need of a major overhaul. Our service members, veterans, and their families deserve better and can finally look forward to a new and improved AAFES Troop Store on Saipan opening soon.

Medicaid drug savings extended to NMI.

The Northern Mariana Islands and other U.S. insular areas will be able to achieve savings in their drug expenditures for Medicaid patients as a result of a final rule published by the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services last week. The rule revises the definition of “state” to include Puerto Rico, the Virgin Islands, Guam, American Samoa and the Northern Marianas. It also addresses changes made to Medicaid Drug Rebate Program by the Affordable Care Act, or Obamacare. Changes to rebate percentages in the Affordable Care Act will increase Medicaid rebates being paid to federal, state, and non-state governments by manufacturers of covered outpatient drugs, including higher cost brand name drugs. See CMS for more information.

EPA releases new guide for healthier school renovations.

With Typhoon Soudelor repairs underway, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s new manual on best practices for protecting children’s health and minimizing environmental health risks is most timely. The manual includes an overview of potential environmental hazards that may emerge during school renovations, such as exposure to lead, asbestos, mold, mercury, and radon, and offers guidance for avoiding exposure, as well as a review of regulations and resources available to schools. The Sensible Guide to Healthier School Renovations can be found online at https://www.epa.gov/schools/sensible-guide-healthier-school-renovations.

High school students: Become a Junior Statesman.

Now is the time for high school students to apply to attend the Junior Statesman summer program at Stanford University, Princeton University, or Georgetown University. Students are schooled in civic engagement, leadership, and political studies, while getting a feel for the life and work in college. Those who apply by February 28, 2016 will be automatically considered for one of the four scholarships set aside for the Northern Marianas. The scholarship covers tuition, room and board, and transportation costs. For more information, and to apply, visit https://summer.jsa.org. Complete applications include an online account, two essays, a letter of recommendation from a teacher, and a current transcript. Transcripts can be emailed directly to JSA Territory Program Director Ed Banayat at ebayanat@jsa.org. All other parts of the application may be completed online.

Opportunities - Federal grants, jobs for and in the Marianas:

Grants:

  • Single Family Housing Repair Loans & Grants – This program provides loans to very-low-income homeowners to repair, improve and or modernize their homes or grants to elderly very-low-income homeowners to remove health and safety hazards. Because of land alienation issues in the NMI, qualified applicants are limited to unsecured loans of up to $7,499. Qualified applicants age 62 and older may also apply for grant funding of up to $7,500. Applications will be processed in the order they are received. No deadline applies. For more information, go to https://www.rd.usda.gov/programs-services/single-family-housing-repair-loans-grants/hi and click here.
  • SMART FY 16 Support for Adam Walsh Act Implementation Grant Program – The Program assists jurisdictions with developing and/or enhancing programs designed to implement requirements of the Sex Offender Registration and Notification Act (SORNA). The SMART Office is interested in proposals that facilitate, enhance and maintain jurisdictional implementation of SORNA. Closing date is April 7, 2016. For more information, go to https://www.grants.gov/web/grants/view-opportunity.html?oppId=281058.
  • National Coastal Wetlands Conservation Grant Program – The NCWCG program provides states with financial assistance to protect and restore coastal environments. Projects can include: 1. acquisition of a real property interest (e.g., conservation easement or fee title) in coastal lands or waters (coastal wetlands ecosystems) from willing sellers or partners for long-term conservation; 2. restoration, enhancement, or management of coastal wetlands ecosystems; or 3. a combination of acquisition, restoration, and management. Closing date is June 29, 2016. For more information, go to https://www.grants.gov/web/grants/view-opportunity.html?oppId=281103.
  • Presidential Awards for Excellence in Science, Mathematics and Engineering (STEM) Mentoring – The STEM program recognizes individuals for their mentoring of persons from historically underrepresented racial and ethnic groups, women, persons with disabilities, and persons from disadvantaged socioeconomic backgrounds. Any U.S. citizen or permanent resident who has done exemplary, measurable mentoring in science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) fields over a sustained 5 year period is eligible for nomination. Closing date is June 17, 2016. For more information, go to https://www.grants.gov/web/grants/view-opportunity.html?oppId=281097.
  • OVW FY 2016 Training and Services to End Violence Against Women with Disabilities Grant Program – Disability Grant Program funds programs that establish and strengthen multidisciplinary collaborative relationships; increase organizational capacity to provide accessible, safe, and effective services to individuals with disabilities and deaf individuals who are victims of violence and abuse; and identify needs within the grantee’s organization and/or service area, and develop a plan to address those identified needs that builds a strong foundation for future work. Closing date is March 10, 2016. For more information, go to https://www.grants.gov/web/grants/view-opportunity.html?oppId=281165.
  • Federal Planning Assistance for Broadband and Sustainable Community Development – Cool & Connected – USDA Rural Utilities Service encourages communities interested in using broadband service to help revitalize small-town main streets and promote economic development to apply for Cool & Connected, a pilot program sponsored by USDA Rural Utilities Service and the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency Office of Sustainable Communities. Closing date for letters of interest is February 24, 2016. For more information, click here.
  • Farm Labor Housing Direct Loans & Grants – USDA Rural Development is soliciting applications for Farm Labor Housing Loans and Grants. The programs provide affordable financing for the development of housing for domestic farm laborers. Housing may be constructed in rural and urban areas with a demonstrated need. Approved applicants receive a 1 percent fixed rate with up to a 33-year payback period. Funding is available on a first-come, first-served basis. Pre-applications packages may be obtained at https://www.rd.usda.gov/files/FLH_Preapplication_FY2016.pdf. Pre-applications are due by 5 p.m. April 12 to the Hawaii State Office. Pre-applications may be submitted to USDA Rural Development, Room 311, Federal Building, 154 Waianuenue Ave., Hilo, HI 96720. For more information, call (808) 933-8300 or go to https://www.rd.usda.gov/programs-services/farm-labor-housing-direct-loans-grants/hi.

Jobs:

  • Transportation Security Officer – The Transportation Security Administration, Department of Homeland Security is accepting applications for a Transportation Security Officer in Saipan. Incumbent will operate various screening equipment and technology, perform searches and screening, control terminal entry and exit points, interact with public, maintain focus and awareness in a stressful environment, engage in development of critical thinking skills, and retain and implement knowledge of all applicable Standard Operating Procedures. Position is open until February 2, 2016. For more information, go to https://www.usajobs.gov/GetJob/ViewDetails/427535500.
  • Loan Adjuster – The Department of Agriculture is accepting applications for TWO Loss Adjusters; one for Saipan and the other for Rota. A Loss Adjuster is an independent contractor who will visit farms for the purpose of inspecting, measuring and appraising agricultural crops. Positions are open until February 8, 2016. For inquiries, please call 671-300-8550. Applications can be accessed at https://www.fsa.usda.gov/Internet/FSA_File/fm_ct_001_02212014.pdf.
Highlights in the Legislative Program:

THIS WEEK:

  • Votes were postponed this week due to inclement weather.

NEXT WEEK:

On the floor

  • Complete Consideration of H.R.3662 – Iran Terror Finance Transparency
  • Consideration of the Veto Message on H.R.3762 – Restoring Americans’ Healthcare Freedom Act
  • H.R.2187 – Fair Investment Opportunities for Professional Experts Act
  • H.R.3784 – SEC Small Business Advocate Act of 2016
  • H.R.4168 – Small Business Capital Formation Enhancement Act
  • Concur in the Senate Amendment to H.R.515 – International Megan’s Law to Prevent Child Exploitation and Other Sexual Crimes Through Advanced Notification of Traveling Sex Offenders
  • H.R.400 – Trafficking Prevention in Foreign Affairs Contracting Act
  • Concur in the Senate Amendment to H.R.4188 – Coast Guard Authorization Act of 2015
  • H.R.3700 – Housing Opportunity Through Modernization Act of 2015
  • H.R.1675 – Encouraging Employee Ownership Act of 2015

Committee Hearings

February 2

  • Subcommittee on Water, Power and Oceans Legislative Hearing
  • Subcommittee on Indian, Insular and Alaska Native Affairs Oversight Hearing on “The Need for the Establishment of a Puerto Rico Financial Stability and Economic Growth Authority”
  • Committee on Education and Workforce Full Committee Markup

February 3

  • Committee on Education and the Workforce Hearing on “Expanding Educational Opportunity Through School Choice”
  • Committee on Natural Resources Full Committee Markup