THIS WEEK IN CONGRESS - July 06, 2018

Jul 8, 2018

In this issue:

Welcoming new U.S. citizens

Senate farm bill helps Marianas

"Let's Read" goes to jail

Status Report: U.S. Workforce Act

New intern: Katrina Salazar Punzalan

Opportunities

Legislative Highlights

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Senate farm bill helps Marianas

Our friend, Senator Lisa Murkowski, has successfully amended the Agricultural Improvement Act of 2018, H.R. 2, to provide financial help to her own Alaskan farmers, as well as those in the Marianas and other insular areas. A $250,000 allocation to the Commonwealth will fund grants of up to $10,000 to non-profits, such as churches or food banks, helping those in need of food. Federally-funded schools, including Head Start, will be eligible for the micro-grants, as will our municipal governments, which do not have taxing authority. Individuals may apply for grants up to $5,000. A ten percent match will be required. The funds can be used for purchase of gardening tools and equipment, composting units, hydroponics, a slaughterhouse, or other uses that address food insecurity in remote areas. Senator Bernie Sanders had prepared an amendment to the farm bill, adding Puerto Rico and American Samoa to SNAP, the national food stamp program. I was able to convince him to revise it to include the Marianas. The Sanders amendment did not make it into the final, Senate-passed bill; but we now have greater awareness that the Marianas must be included in SNAP. The farm bill now goes to a conference committee of the House and Senate. 

Status report: U.S. Workforce Act

Reports on social media that President Trump had signed the Northern Mariana Islands U.S. Workforce Act into law were not accurate. Your congressional office is tracking the bill in Washington. After passage, it is enrolled by the Clerk of the House, where the bill originated, and signed by the Speaker of the House and the Presiding Officer of the Senate. Then, the bill is hand-delivered to the White House. In addition to all those I have already thanked by name, I would like to express appreciation for the input of USCIS District Director David G. Gulick, with whom I met to get ideas for the bill in Hawai’i last October, and CBP Director for the CNMI Robert M. Havens, who has been a constant source of front-line information about the entry/exit process. They both recommended language that allows CW permits to be used for transit through Guam rather than just for admission to the Marianas as specified in the original U.S. Public Law 110-229. I included their recommendation in H.R. 4869 and S.2325, when Senator Murkowski and I first introduced the U.S. Workforce Act in January.

OPPORTUNITIES

Grants:

LEGISLATIVE HIGHLIGHTS

NEXT WEEK

  • H.R. 6237 – Matthew Young Pollard Intelligence Authorization Act for FYs 18 and 19
  • H.R. 50 – Unfunded Mandates Information Transparency Act of 2017
  • H.R. 3281 – Reclamation Title Transfer and Non-Federal Infrastructure Incentivization Act
  • H.R. 2075 – Crooked River Ranch Protection Act