Jun 17, 2018

In this issue: 

We have money, let’s feed people

United pilots discuss concerns

Harassment hearing needed

Agent Orange diseases recognized

STOPping opioid shipments

Meeting with the PRC

“Non-voting” Delegates do vote

Welcome, summer interns!

Villagomez, Guerrero families here

• Visitors: Tinians Cing family

Okaruru renews Marianas ties

Tweet o’ the week: VA MISSION Act


Legislative Highlights


We have the money, let’s feed people

The U.S. Department of Agriculture says the Commonwealth will have $17.4 million for food stamps, unused, at the end of 2021—even after the substantial benefit increases that began May 1 at my urging. This week, I asked Governor Ralph Torres to use those unused millions, now, to make more families eligible for food aid. The current income cap for a Marianas family of four is $17,412. Nationwide, the cap is $31,536. With all the unused money, the Governor could raise the Marianas income threshold to $25,000, if he wanted, and add another 2,000 households to the program. Retirees and others on fixed incomes would be helped. And almost all our families living below the federal poverty line could be covered. I have been able to increase the Marianas annual food stamp block grant from $10 million to $12 million per year. I got an additional $30.5 million in benefit money in the Agricultural Act of 2014. And I am working for more in this year’s farm bill. But getting the money from Congress is not enough, the Commonwealth has to give that money to the families who need it.

Harassment hearing needed

Democrats on the House Natural Resources Committee want a hearing, as soon as possible, on the long-standing problems with sexual and other forms of harassment at the Department of the Interior. This week we sent a letter with the litany of problems , particularly at the Bureau of Indian Affairs and the National Park Service, and made our second request for an oversight hearing on the issue. Harassment cannot be tolerated anywhere, especially in our government. I recently completed my own harassment training , with fellow Members of Congress, to make us more aware and better responsive to such situations.

Agent Orange diseases recognized

Bladder cancer, hypothyroidism, Parkinson-like tremors, and hypertension can be caused by exposure to Agent Orange. That was the conclusion reached by Dr. David Shulkin, before he was fired as Secretary of Veterans Affairs by President Trump. Shulkin’s recommendation that these diseases be added to the list of those that are automatically presumed to be the result of Agent Orange or other herbicides used during the Vietnam War may have fallen through the cracks since his departure. So, on Tuesday, along with Democratic colleagues on the House Veterans Affairs Committee, I wrote to the Office of Management and Budget Director, Mick Mulvaney, asking for an update on OMB’s review of Shulkin’s recommendations. We want Vietnam veterans suffering from these conditions to get the benefits they deserve. Shulkin based his finding on a report by the National Academy of Medicine: Veterans and Agent Orange: Update 2014 .

STOPping opioid shipments

One way to stop the opioid crisis in America is to stop the illegal shipment of the drugs into our country. That is why I cosponsored the STOP Act . A revised version of the bill passed the House on Thursday. The measure closes a security loophole by requiring the U.S. Postal Service to track foreign packages using the Advance Electronic Data system. Private carriers are already required to do so. AED is an essential tool for Customs and Border Protection to interdict illegal drugs. If passed by the Senate, the STOP Act should help get these dangerous drugs off our nation’s streets.



Public Comment:


On the Floor
  • H.R. 5735 - Transitional Housing for Recovery in Viable Environments Demonstration Program Act (Passed, 230-173)
  • H.R. 2851 - Stop the Importation and Trafficking of Synthetic Analogues Act of 2017 (Passed, 239-142)
  • H.R. 5788 - Securing the International Mail Against Opioids Act of 2018 (Passed, 353-52)
  • H.R. 4635 – To direct VA to increase the number of peer-to-peer counselors providing counseling for women veterans, and for other purposes, as amended (Agreed to by voice vote)
  • H.R. 2147 – Veterans Treatment Court Improvement Act of 2018, as amended (Agreed to by voice vote) 
  • House Amendment to S. 1091 – Supporting Grandparents Raising Grandchildren Act (Agreed to by voice vote)
  • H.R. 5891 – Improving the Federal Response to Families Impacted by Substance Use Disorder Act (Passed, 409-8) 
  • H.R. 5890 – Assisting States’ Implementation of Plans of Safe Care Act (Passed, 406-3)
  • H.R. 5889 – Recognizing Early Childhood Trauma Related to Substance Abuse Act of 2018 (Agreed to by voice vote) 
  • H.R. 6029 – REGROUP Act of 2018 (Agreed to by voice vote)
Legislation I Cosponsored
  • H.R.6080 - To amend the National Labor Relations Act, the Labor Management Relations Act, 1947, the Labor-Management Reporting and Disclosure Act, 1959, and for other purposes.
  • H.Res.929 - Recognizing World Oceans Day and the necessity to protect, conserve, maintain, and rebuild the ocean and its resources.
  • H.Res.930 - Encouraging reunions of divided Korean-American families.
On the Floor
  • H.R. 5797 - Individuals in Medicaid Deserve Care that is Appropriate and Responsible in its Delivery Act
  • H.R. 6082 - Overdose Prevention and Patient Safety Act
  • H.R. 6 - Substance Use-Disorder Prevention that Promotes Opioid Recovery and Treatment for Patients and Communities Act
Committee Activity
Wednesday, June 20
  • Subcommittee on Higher Education and Workforce Development Hearing on “Occupational Licensing: Reducing Barriers to Economic Mobility and Growth
  • Committee on Natural Resources Legislative Markup
Thursday, June 21
  • Subcommittee on Health, Employment, Labor and Pensions Hearing on “Growth, Opportunity, and Change in the U.S. Labor Market and the American Workforce: A Review of Current Developments, Trends, and Statistics”